Today, Republican Senators received a 23 page legal opinion from the ‘Eric Holder Justice Department’, which [as expected] concluded that President Obama did have the U.S. Constitution, or at least its’ lack of a clear definition for “Recess” in it, on his side, when he made the four highly controversial “recess appointments” over the holidays, according to a FOXNews article today.
“The Justice Department opinion is unconvincing. Its conclusion is at odds with the text of the Constitution, and the administration’s own previous statements. It fundamentally alters the careful separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches that the framers crafted in the Constitution. It relies on no Supreme Court decision and many conclusions are unsupported in law or the Constitution. It recognizes that the courts might well disagree. And, it flies in the face of more than 90 years of historical practice.
Taken together with a laundry list of other assertions of the power to act without Congress, this is clearly an escalation in a pattern of contempt for the elected representatives of the American people.”
Grassley was joined by Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of The American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative group focused on constitutional law, who labeled the opinion a “smokescreen.”
“This memo changes nothing: President Obama acted in a unconstitutional manner in making these appointments — ignoring the rule of law and nearly a century of precedent.”
However, six Republican Senators have been drafting legislation that may very well treat President Barack Obama to a dose of his own Constitutional law ‘medicine,’ before the end of next month.
Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota is leading a team of key Senators, which include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Richard Lugar (R-IN), David Vitter (R-LA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mike Johanns (R-NE), who are working on the measure to assume control of the permit approval process of the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL oil pipeline project, according to a Reuters article today.
Last November, President Obama put off having to make the permit decision for the pipeline until 2013, well past the upcoming November elections, with most not buying the “environmental concerns”, unless it includes his desire to assuage his environmental extremist voter base.
But, a hard-fought Republican provision in the very contentious bill granting the two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday–passed during the above mentioned ‘do nothing pro forma sessions’ of the Senate mentioned above–President Obama is forced either approve the permit, which would immediately create 20,000 high paying construction jobs, or give a formal statement as to why it is not in the interest of the country to permit it…by February 21, 2012.
Should President Obama prohibit his State Department from approving the permit, the measure would then provide a legal segue for the Senate to take up and vote on the question, as is unequivocally provided for in the U.S. Constitution–regardless of the decades of convention that has allowed the State Department to handle such matters.
Ryan Bernstein, an energy adviser to Hoeven, cited the powers given to Congress in the Constitution to regulate commerce with foreign nations. “We believe that express authority in the Constitution gives Congress the ability to approve and move forward on such a project.”
The State Department, which has long held authority to oversee permits for cross-border pipelines, did not have immediate comment on the Republican plan on Wednesday.
Sounding like an application of the ‘what comes around goes around’ doctrine?
The Keystone pipeline has become a political thorn in Barack Obama’s side, in what promises to be a very difficult (if not final) election cycle for him, as it has two of his most important voting blocks in opposition to each other.
On the one hand, labor unions are frothing at the prospect of the 20,000 high-paying, union due generating, construction jobs it will create almost immediately.
And on the other hand, there are the environmental extremists, who are using what ever excuse will stick, to stop the production and use of fracking shale oil, no matter where it comes from.
And the remarks from Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont confirm this tactic … “Short-cutting U.S. review of an inherently dirty tar sands project is bad enough. Smothering the review process altogether would compound the folly and divert us from better, cleaner, renewable energy solutions.”
Some Democratic senators have said they support the pipeline, which may likely have enough votes to pass, during the very difficult reelection year ahead for them as well.
This could prove to be a real problem for President Barack Obama–however, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, was reported as saying that he would consult with the White House before making any pronouncements.
Except for the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, the concept of “checks and balances” seems to have gone out on sick leave during the Obama administration.
Perhaps this GOP Con Law medicine will help to make it better.