Sunday, November 23, 2008

As long as the U.S. Constitution stands

By Carol Gee

In the Constitution -- Article I lays out the role of Congress and Article II lays out the role of the President, not the other way around. Thus Congress has a great deal of power to lead right now, if Senators and Members would only exercise their governing rights under the Constitution. But for too long we have vested far too much power* in our Presidents. And we are wanting to vest more power in the hands of our President-elect right now than he can have. He, like all of us, is bound by Constitutional processes, and he understands them full well, having taught Constitutional law for several years himself.

The Constitution specifies in whom are vested the various powers,# the dilemma being lived out during this crisis laden period of transition: Likewise, the Constitution has been amended 23 times, but nowhere does it specify that the President can check out early and turn governance over to the President-elect. President Bush has the responsibility to serve for another 57 days.

The Presidential Oath or Affirmation is written in the document under which we all operate. When President-elect Barack Obama becomes the actual President in January 2009, he will stand in front of the nation and say,

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

The Constitution specifies both rights and responsibilities -- The peoples' basic rights as citizens are laid out in the Bill of Rights, the first ten Constitutional amendments. Amendment X specifies:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The role of the judicial branch of our government is laid out in Article III of the Constitution. All of us are bound to live under the rule of law. That includes our public officials. Most recently it even included Senator Ted Stevens, who had represented Alaska for decades. Under the law his name stayed on the ballot, but his constituents (the people) defeated him at the ballot box.

As long as the Constitution stands we are bound by the rule of law. All three branches of government must share equally the responsibility to make things work, however, on behalf of we the people. Congress makes the law and exercises oversight (as representatives of the people) over the other two co-equal branches of government. The President executes the laws passed by Congress and as adjudicated by the courts. Congress and the courts may be asked in the future to hold up the current administration to the scrutiny of the rule of law. And it is not the responsibility of the executive branch to prosecute those who have broken the law, except through the Justice Department, acting as the peoples' lawyers. We must remember and trust the process. Thus we must wait to see what happens. We must remind or remove officials as needed at the end of their terms, as we did recently, or by demanding impeachment.

Hat Tip Key: Regular contributors of links to leads are "betmo"* and Jon#.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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