No presidency in American history has done as much damage to our constitutional republic. This is the Obama legacy.
A recent index report found that the Obama presidency has the worst legislative record in history. No administration in modern history has had a worse record before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Associated Press has found that the Obama administration is the least transparent in modern history.
The Obama years brought us a systematic dismantling of checks and balances, giving rise to a permanent bureaucracy that rules by its own unaccountable will. By its own admission, the Obama administration planted "legal time bombs" in dozens of federal agencies. Despite a new administration promising to "drain the swamp," there will be years of litigation necessary to unwind the unconstitutional mess left in President Obama’s wake.
The Obama years saw the most feckless redirection of American foreign policy that has emboldened enemies and competitors to take advantage of perceived weakness. A reasonable person could conclude that this effort was deliberate.
The Obama presidency delivered on its promise of change. The American republic today sits 180 degrees to the opposite of where the Constitution designed us to be. We’re in trouble. What would our Founders have said about the Obama years?
Consider the actual language of the Declaration of Independence and the "long train of abuses and usurpations" by King George and the British government that prompted our move to independence. The "abuses" resonate clearly in a review of the Obama legacy. As the Declaration states, "To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world."
• "He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good." The Obama Justice Department repeatedly refused to defend duly-enacted laws because it simply didn’t like those laws; Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents about the deadly Fast and Furious gun-walking debacle; the Obama Justice Department failed to apply federal national security laws and adequately investigate the Clinton email scandal, despite prosecuting others for lesser offenses.
• "He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers." President Obama regularly chastised the Supreme Court, including during a State of the Union address; his agencies obscured and denied Freedom of Information Act requests to a far greater degree than his predecessors; his agencies executed unprecedented overreach beyond existing law and congressional review, often re-introducing regulations that were previously struck down by the courts.
• "He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance." The Obama presidency is distinguished by its appointment of unaccountable "czars" to oversee implementation of Executive Orders and overreaching regulations that doubled the national debt; his agencies were repeatedly cited by independent Inspectors General and government accountability offices for unfair and unlawful practices ranging from IRS targeting of conservative groups to the making of illegal lobbying grants to private groups.
• "He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation." The examples are plentiful, but some highlights include the Iran nuclear deal that binds the U.S. but was never signed by Iran, the Paris climate framework that was never approved by Congress yet subjects the U.S. to international tribunals, and the recent abandonment of ally Israel in the UN Security Council.
• "For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent." By most estimates, the Obama regulatory regime has added more than $750 billion in costs to American consumers and taxpayers, with no demonstrable improvement in any demographic or industrial segment. In late 2015, the administration publicly stated it was "very interested" in raising taxes through Executive action without Congress.
• "For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Government." See above. The damage has been significant. Many of our vital constitutional protections are in tatters. It will take years of litigation, combined with vigorous reformation of Executive agencies, to rebuild the American republic.
Todd Young serves as Executive Director for Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF), an Atlanta-based national constitutional public interest law firm founded in 1976. In his role at SLF, he has worked closely in an advisory capacity with former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III, former Independent Counsel Judge Kenneth Starr, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and various members of Congress and state governors and attorneys general. To read more of his reports — Go Here Now.
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