President Obama, with a straight face, proclaims that he has decided to give Congress a say on the NSA issue. Our president, among other serious flaws, is not much of a constitutional scholar. Cato Institute’s David Boaz, on the other hand, is. And I realize that I am a little biased here due to my strong relationship with Cato. I also know David Boaz well.
As David succinctly points out, it is the job of Congress to legislate laws, the Supreme Court to strike down faulty laws and the president to execute the laws put in place by Congress. I carry a copy of Cato’s Constitution booklet with me at all times. I have read the Constitution and the great intro by Cato’s Roger Pilon over and over. David Boaz is 100% correct. It is not the province of the chief executive to be chiming in on legislating laws. The Constitution is laser clear on giving this duty to Congress. It is impossible for me to believe that any American who reads the explicit wording in our Constitution would think otherwise. And for a president to opine in such delusional fashion calls into question his ability to support the oath of office he took at his inauguration. How could Americans have voted for Barack Obama, not once but twice?
Deciding the scope and extent of any federal surveillance powers is clearly a legislative matter. Subject to the constraints imposed by the Constitution’s limits on federal powers, legislative powers are vested in Congress, not the president. How can reporters (and headline writers) write so cavalierly about the president “giving” Congress a chance to “weigh in” on matters of fundamental law? This headline should be as jarring as one reading, “Obama plans to give Supreme Court a say in fate of NSA program.” It isn’t up to the president. The legislative branch is empowered by the Constitution to make law, and the judicial branch is empowered to strike down legislative and executive actions not authorized by the Constitution. The president’s job is to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”