Barack Obama’s scofflaw administration has revealed some ambiguities or omissions in our Constitution–loopholes, if you will–that should be closed via constitutional amendment, to eliminate the possibility that future administrations may also act lawlessly. I have in mind three amendments that should accomplish that purpose.
First, President Obama has asserted the power to issue decrees or executive orders that have the force of law. This seems plainly at odds with the framework of the Constitution, but pundits and politicians have not been able to reach a consensus that such rule by executive order is improper. So, to resolve the issue once and for all, I propose that the following language be added to the Constitution:
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
That would make it crystal clear that only Congress can enact legislation.
Second, President Obama has, in effect, repealed or amended important federal laws by refusing to execute them. Immigration is the most notorious example, but there are others; for example, the administration’s de facto legalization of marijuana for purposes of federal law. Here again, pundits and politicians can’t seem to agree that such conduct violates the chief executive’s constitutional duties. So I propose that the following language be added to the Constitution via amendment:
The President shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.
I’m rather proud of that bit of draftsmanship. It would eliminate any doubt about the President’s obligation to enforce the enactments of Congress, whether he agrees with them or not.
Finally, I was taught in law school that the federal government is one of limited, enumerated powers. To be sure, that was quite a few years ago. Apparently that principle is not stated clearly enough in the Constitution; how else could it be that the Obama administration has promulgated thousands of pages of regulations purporting to micromanage your family’s health care? So I think we need to state more plainly that the federal government’s powers are confined to those specifically granted in the Constitution. This amendment should do the trick:
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.
I realize that these proposed amendments will be controversial. Legal scholars–and, no doubt, Democratic politicians–will argue that they are out of step with how the federal government now operates. Still, I think they are needed to restore the proper balance between the federal government and its citizens, and between Congress and the chief executive. The Constitution, as the founders wrote it, evidently isn’t quite clear enough.