I put a good deal of thought into the placement of this thread. I hope I've chosen wisely. I'd love to have a discussion on this at the level of the
issues and the serious repercussions all this is carrying.
What this thread is and isn't:
This is first and foremost spawned by the Firearms debate in the United States because that topic is what has brought this to a head at this point in
time. Having said that, this is NOT a gun thread
. What happened today goes beyond firearms
and it's reach will far surpass this
one topic. There is a concept at stake here that is simply referred to as precedent.
What the issue here actually is:
An earlier event or action regarded as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances.
That word is what this *ALL* comes down to. It's what makes this so important and transcends the mere issue of the firearms themselves.
What Precedent is at stake:
Another term is critical here. Executive Order. I've kept the reference for this to a general and easy to read one rather than academic references.
It's no less accurate in descriptions though.
In many ways, presidential executive orders are similar to written orders, or instructions issued by the president of a corporation to its
department heads or directors.
Thirty days after being published in the Federal Register, executive orders take effect. While they do bypass the U.S. Congress and the standard
legislative law making process, no part of an executive order may direct the agencies to conduct illegal or unconstitutional activities.
President George Washington issued the first executive order in 1789. Since then, all U.S. presidents have issued executive orders, ranging from
Presidents Adams, Madison and Monroe, who issued only one each, to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who issued 3,522 executive orders.
and of particular note:
Can Executive Orders be Overridden or Withdrawn?
The president can amend or retract an executive at any time. The president may also issue an executive order superseding an existing one. New incoming
presidents may choose to retain the executive orders issued by their predecessors, replace them with new ones of their own, or revoke the old ones
completely. In extreme cases, Congress may pass a law that alters an executive order, and they can be declared unconstitutional and vacated by the
for more specific detail on the wording: Article II, Section 1 - The Powers of the
What's changing and why does this matter? Isn't it about the guns you may ask? No... It's more than that
The original purpose of them was, as interpreted and described in both lay and legal sources, a tool for the Executive Branch to guide and influence
the agencies of the Government, within that branch. It's been used and at times, abused, to accomplish that housekeeping as well as pet interests of
various Presidents, end-runs around Congress here and there on relatively small things they didn't put up major fights about, reaffirmation of what
Congress itself WANTS but can't pass or politically stomach (Past EO's dealing with Detention as well as much earlier ones relating to Continuity of
Government as concept and named program are among the latter, in my opinion) and general things usually mundane and entirely routine. Presidents write
hundreds and even thousands of them. Their existence is nothing new. This use
of Executive power IS something not usually seen, to be extremely
kind about it.
What they were not made to do or meant to do was give a President the means and tools to directly circumvent the legislative process on matters of
major national policy, law or domestic impact. Just as the ABSOLUTE, SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE power to budget monies, take on debt and direct the printing
of currency lay with Congress and specifically, the House of Representatives...so too does the process of Law for both it's original creation and
significant modification in major national impact. In the case of law and major domestic policy changes, it can originate in either the Senate or the
House while by the end, BOTH MUST agree. This is by design and to prevent any political ideology from running over another with impunity.
That is how our system was designed. That was how it was intended to function and the Founders are very clear on this point in many areas and ways.
Not the least of which was the clear and stated intention at one point to have TWO men share the power and the oft stated intention that the U.S.
Presidency be subservient to the elected bodies of the Legislature. Neither actually came to be in the final structural agreements for government, and
that's compromise at it's best.
Why it DOES matter and to every American it should matter A LOT:
What DID happen in the end and what this President is looking and actually managing to materially CHANGE is what the structure of this nation's
Government in it's final form DOES NOT ALLOW FOR. 'Suggestions" with the force of law and policy to originate from just a single man. Be that Bush
or Clinton or Obama.
That makes absolutely no difference here. Who is President isn't even the point on this. It's too important to get lost bickering about Obama or
Bush or the Boogeyman 4 years hence.
The problem this creates by PRECEDENT of the circumvention of Congress on MAJOR national policy issues and changes is multi-layered. Without direct
meaningful challenge BY Congress it will be something we're living with LONG AFTER President Obama is retired and likely beyond his own lifetime or
The Bottom Line:
Precedent within Government....at least OUR Government, is NO small thing and we're still enforcing both law and principle over things decided all
across the nation's 230+ years. It's bad enough they REQUEST the debt ceiling be eliminated and the issuance of debt be removed from the House.
This, today, doesn't even request. It simply forces by Executive prerogative, what Obama and % of the nation feel is a good idea. When it's not
Obama anymore and it's someone else's definition of a good idea, it will work just as easily. PRECEDENT makes that happen....and it can't be so
easily turned off once established.
Now, this series of laws would have been interesting and it would have been a run to the court's with for challenge if it had gone through Congress
and proper legislative process of floor votes in both sides of Congress...as almost every matter of major U.S. Policy HAS done for those two centuries
preceding this President. As this stands though? It wasn't even given the honor of seeing a rubber stamp through the legal process......and the whole
process has outright been circumvented.
To let this all simply stand and pass without challenge or serious uproar is to accept this major change in the way the United States Government
functions. What hasn't been done today in reality has the foundation to make those final steps to complete central authority relatively minor
adjustments by comparison. This issue...now...today, is what lays the concrete foundation like the Patriot Act did for SO MUCH in other ways.