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  1. 02 Jul '09 06:49
    Here is an interesting article entitled, "Senior Democrat Says Obama's Czars Unconstitutional"

    "Last week President Obama appointed yet another "czar" with massive government power, answering only to him. Even before this latest appointment, the top-ranking Democrat in the Senate wrote President Obama a letter saying that these czars are unconstitutional. President Obama's "czar strategy" is an unprecendented power grab centralizying authority in the White House, outside congressional oversight and in violation of the Constitution.

    As of last week, Czar Kenneth Feinberg has the authority to set the pay scale for executives at any company receiving government money (and how many are not, these days?). Czar Feinberg has the power to say that someone's pay is excessive, and to make companies cut that pay until the czar is pleased.

    Congress did not give Czar Feinberg this authority. For that matter, Congress has not authorized any of the czars that President Barak Obama has created. Over the past thirty years presidents have each had one or two czars for various issues, and once the number went as high as five. But now, by some counts President Obama has created 16 czars, and there may be more on the way. Each of these has enormous government power, and answers only to the President.

    Ever since this practice of appointing czars began years ago, it has always been considered possible that they are all unconstitutional. But it never built to a critical mass to elicit a court fight. These czars were few and far between, and rarely did anything that seriously ruffled any feathers. But President Obama has taken this to an unprecendented level, to the point where these appointments are dangerous to our constitutional regime.

    This has become too much for the longest-serving senator in US history to stomach. Democratic Senator Robert Byrd is the president pro tempore of the US Senate. Even though Senate rules vest most powers in the Senate majority leader, the president pro tempore is a constitutional officer, and third in line to the US presidency (after the vice president and Speaker of the House). This office is held by a Democrat, who has been serving in the Senate since before Obama was even born.

    Senator Byrd wrote a letter to President Obama in February, criticizing the president's strategy of creating czars to mangae important areas of national policy. Senator Byrd said that these appointments violate both the constitutional system of checks and balances and the constitutional seperation of powers, and is a clear attempt to evade congressional oversight.

    And Senator Byrd is exactly correct. The Constitution commands that government officers with significant authority (called "principle officers" are nominated by the president but then are subject to a confirmation vote by the US Senate. And principle officers include not only cabinet-level department heads, but go five levels deep in executive appointments, to include assistant secretaries and deputy undersecretaries.

    Inferior officers are appointed either by the president, cabinet-level officers, or the courts. But even then, the Constitution specifies that only Congress can authorize the making of such appointments. For these inferior officers, only Congress can create their offices, and also specify who appoints them. And such officers are still answerable to Congress. They are subject to subpoena to testify before Congress, and Congress holds the power of the purse by making annual appropriations for their division or program.

    White House officials, by contrast, cannot be compelled to appear before Congress and testify. They are alter-egos of the President himself, and as an agent of the Executive Office of the President they are entirely removed from Congress, and not answerable to Congress in any way. That was why during the Bush administration White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, Senior Advisor Karl Rove, and Counsel Harriet Miers could not be compelled to testifiy to Congress when President Bush invoked executive privilege (a battle they may well have won if they pressed their case all the way to the Supreme Court). Senior presidential aides advise the president alone, and the seperation of powers forbids congressional interference in that relationship.

    But that's the problem with these czars. The president can have any adivisors he wants, people who privately adivse ihm or meet with others on his behalf, but have little or no actual authority to exert government power on anyone. These czars, however, are directly dictating policy, impacting millions of lives in the way that few assistant secretaries or deputy undersecretaries do.

    The Founding Fathers specifically wrote the Constituion in a way to deny such absolute power to emanate from one person. That was why they required that no principle officers could exercise any power unless the US Senate decided to confirm them. That was also why they specified that even for inferior officers only Congress could create their positions and could still require them to answer to Congress. The Founding Fathers were specifically blocking the type of centralized power that President Obama is currently exerting.

    Fortunately, there is a remedy. Any person on the recieving end of an order from any of these czars has standing to challenge their constitutionality in court. Any person whose pay is deemed excessive by Kenneth Feinberg, or affected by any other czar, could file a federal suit asserting that the order is an unconstitutional exercise of government power, and have a court both invalidate the order and hold that the position itself does not legally exist. Then everyone could just ignore these czars, because they would simply be private citizens, without the authority to order any of us to tie our shoes.
  2. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    02 Jul '09 13:29 / 4 edits
    I'd judge the czars by what they do, not by what they're called or what the purported scope of their authorities are.

    If they assume powers that are beyond the scope of the executive branch or beyond the scope of their Congressional mandate if they work for administrative agencies, then rein 'em in. If they don't, who cares what they're called? If Obama appoints little Malia as Emperor and Tyrant with regards to deciding what and when to feed the dog, those titles doesn't make it unconstitutional.

    As for Robert Byrd, well, between taking his geritol, going in and out of the hospital, reliving his days as a member of the KKK and somehow convincing the people of ("Almost Heaven" ) West Virginia to send him back to the Senate as a nonagenarian, he's got to figure out something to complain about. Its not like he's still capable of doing actual work.
  3. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    02 Jul '09 13:33
    Originally posted by whodey
    Here is an interesting article entitled, "Senior Democrat Says Obama's Czars Unconstitutional"

    "Last week President Obama appointed yet another "czar" with massive government power, answering only to him. Even before this latest appointment, the top-ranking Democrat in the Senate wrote President Obama a letter saying that these czars are unconstitutional. ...[text shortened]... ly be private citizens, without the authority to order any of us to tie our shoes.
    Congress authorized the Treasury Department to oversee executive pay in firms receiving federal money according to guidelines promulgated in the bill passed by Congress.

    Treasury hired someone to do what Congress ordered it to do. Feinberg works for Treasury.

    Nothing to see here.
  4. 02 Jul '09 14:07 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sh76
    I'd judge the czars by what they do, not by what they're called or what the purported scope of their authorities are.

    If they assume powers that are beyond the scope of the executive branch or beyond the scope of their Congressional mandate if they work for administrative agencies, then rein 'em in. If they don't, who cares what they're called? If Obama appo out something to complain about. Its not like he's still capable of doing actual work.
    So you would not worry about the scope of their powers, rather, you would only worry if they exercised the full scope of their powers?

    AS for Democratic Senator Byrd, you attack him on two fronts. First you seem to imply his motives are racist and then that he is senile. Which is it in your opinion or is it both? Perhaps he should be removed from office if that is the case. What say you?

    The only funny part is that partisan tools can't scream he is a right winged nut case.
  5. 02 Jul '09 14:09
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    Congress authorized the Treasury Department to oversee executive pay in firms receiving federal money according to guidelines promulgated in the bill passed by Congress.

    Treasury hired someone to do what Congress ordered it to do. Feinberg works for Treasury.

    Nothing to see here.
    So what would happen if, for example, a CEO challenged a czar that may dictate how much he could earn in a year via the Supreme Court?
  6. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    02 Jul '09 14:36 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by whodey
    So you would not worry about the scope of their powers, rather, you would only worry if they exercised the full scope of their powers?

    AS for Democratic Senator Byrd, you attack him on two fronts. First you seem to imply his motives are racist and then that he is senile. Which is it in your opinion or is it both? Perhaps he should be removed from offic ...[text shortened]... you?

    The only funny part is that partisan tools can't scream he is a right winged nut case.
    With an executive official, it's always tricky determining exactly what are the scope of his power. As chief executive, the President controls pretty much the entire day to day operations of the federal government. So, if he doesn't actually use power that's beyond the scope of his authority, it's hard to determine that the executive is overreaching in the theoretical powers that he allocates to himself. That's why I'd like to see what the czars actually do before I criticize them.

    I didn't really mean to attack Byrd personally. The KKK line was a joke. I sincerely don't think he's a racist at this point in his life. I do think it's a little ridiculous that a 92 year old man is in the US Senate. No offense to old people, but people of that age don't exactly have the mental acuity necessary to govern a country. (I suppose it can be argued that Senators don't really do anything anyway, but that's another story.) And, yes, it was equally dumb when Strom Thurmond was in the similar situation.
  7. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    02 Jul '09 14:37
    Originally posted by whodey
    So what would happen if, for example, a CEO challenged a czar that may dictate how much he could earn in a year via the Supreme Court?
    He could challenge it based on the theory that the "czar" does not have the authority to make that determination. Whether he'd win the challenge is another matter.
  8. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    02 Jul '09 14:38 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by whodey
    So what would happen if, for example, a CEO challenged a czar that may dictate how much he could earn in a year via the Supreme Court?
    He'd be laughed out of court. Do you think that you can successfully challenge the findings of an IRS auditer on your return because the said auditer wasn't confirmed by the Senate?

    EDIT: I guess with Roberts and the Three Stooges you never know.
  9. 02 Jul '09 14:57
    Originally posted by sh76

    I didn't really mean to attack Byrd personally. The KKK line was a joke. I sincerely don't think he's a racist at this point in his life. I do think it's a little ridiculous that a 92 year old man is in the US Senate. No offense to old people, but people of that age don't exactly have the mental acuity necessary to govern a country. (I suppose it can be argued t ...[text shortened]... r story.) And, yes, it was equally dumb when Strom Thurmond was in the similar situation.[/b]
    Could it be that he is simply from a bygone era from when the scope of statism had not reached such levels? In fact, I often wonder what the Founding Fathers would say of our current state of political affairs.
  10. 02 Jul '09 14:58
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    He'd be laughed out of court. Do you think that you can successfully challenge the findings of an IRS auditer on your return because the said auditer wasn't confirmed by the Senate?

    EDIT: I guess with Roberts and the Three Stooges you never know.
    God forbid I would ever challenge the IRS. That is, if I enjoy my freedom.
  11. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    02 Jul '09 15:02
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    He'd be laughed out of court. Do you think that you can successfully challenge the findings of an IRS auditer on your return because the said auditer wasn't confirmed by the Senate?

    EDIT: I guess with Roberts and the Three Stooges you never know.
    Other than that you disagree with them in most cases, in what way are Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito "stooges"?
  12. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    02 Jul '09 15:09
    Originally posted by sh76
    Other than that you disagree with them in most cases, in what way are Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito "stooges"?
    Did you read Alioto's concurrence in the New Haven case? It sounded like a Fox News Special Report rather than something a jurist would write. Like you, he sure doesn't like Blacks with the temerity to become "leaders" in their community.

    Scalia's "irreparable harm" argument in granting the stay in Bush v. Gore was probably the most lawless ever presented by a sitting SC justice.
  13. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    02 Jul '09 15:21 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    Like you, he sure doesn't like Blacks with the temerity to become "leaders" in their community.
    Did I ever say that?

    I said I didn't like certain black leaders; to wit, Al Sharpton and, to a lesser extent, Jesse Jackson. What does that have to do with not liking "Blacks with the temerity to become "leaders" in their community"?

    ===Scalia's "irreparable harm" argument in granting the stay in Bush v. Gore was probably the most lawless ever presented by a sitting SC justice.===

    More lawless than Dred Scot? How about Plessy v. Ferguson? Korematsu?