Executive Orders, Subject to the People

Executive Orders, Subject to the People 
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

In a nation where people enjoy freedom, laws are made by a parliament, a congress, or some similar assemblage of elected officials. These lawmakers owe their posts to voters and are, in the main, subject to the people. But, as history has repeatedly shown, the laws in many nations are made by the decrees of a king or dictator who relies on virtually almighty power to rule.

The signing of an executive order on the Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government.

The signing of an executive order on the Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government, (photo by White House Photo Office [Public domain by Pete Souza], via Wikimedia Commons).

America’s Founders knew well the excesses of that kind of power. So they declared themselves independent, fought a war to get out from under a king’s dictates, and won the struggle to be free. The very first clause in the 1787 Constitution they created left all law-making power in the hands of Congress. Under the rules established by the U.S. Constitution, the president is charged with the responsibility, not to make law, but to see that all laws properly enacted would be faithfully executed.

In the performance of his duties, a president can issue executive orders that have the force of law – but only among those who serve under him. A presidential executive order is proper when directed at government employees. While he serves, a president is much like the CEO of a company who certainly has a right to issue orders binding his employees.

In 1793, during his first term in office, George Washington issued an executive order declaring America’s neutrality in the war between France and England. Our first president soon realized that the protests of Madison and Jefferson against his executive mandate were correct. He then asked Congress to issue a law declaring the sought-after neutrality and Congress complied. There were no more presidential misuses of the executive order power for approximately 70 years.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln overstepped his authority and issued executive orders that suspended habeas corpus, blockaded southern ports, and emancipated southern slaves. He cited his role as “commander in chief” of the military to do so. Later, following the pattern set by Washington, he asked Congress to amend the Constitution to prohibit all slavery. Which was done. A measure of respect for the limitations on presidential power still existed during that period of history. Then in 1866, the Supreme Court in Ex Parte Milligan explained those limitations as follows:

The power to make necessary laws is in Congress; the power to execute in the President…. But neither can the President, in war more than in peace, intrude upon the proper authority of Congress, nor Congress upon the proper authority of the President.

Fast forward to today. In its first seven years, the Obama administration issued 560 major regulations via executive orders. Each had significant economic or social consequences for the entire nation. His wrongful reliance on the power to issue improper executive orders followed President George W. Bush’s issuance of half the number created by President Obama. As reported by Binyamin Applebaum and Michael D. Shear in the August 28, 2016 issue of the New York Times, the Obama orders aimed, among other targets, to “restructure the nation’s health care and financial industries, limit pollution, bolster workplace protections, and extend equal rights to minorities.” The Times reporters added that Obama’s reliance on executive orders “has imposed billions of dollars in new costs on businesses and consumers.”

Barack Obama has even stated his intention to use “my pen” if Congress doesn’t enact laws he wants. Too often, Congress has caved in and tolerated such completely illicit contempt for the Constitution. This docility of the legislative branch has to stop. No king or all-powerful ruler should be making laws for our nation.

Congress should declare any executive order aimed at the entire population completely null. All presidents should follow the lesson George Washington learned while he served as President. All Americans should become familiar with Article I, Section 1, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution where Congress is named as the sole possessor of “All legislative powers.”

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Which is Worse: Abortion or a Fake Driver’s License?

Which is Worse: Abortion or a Fake Driver’s License?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Over the past few months, videos of Planned Parenthood personnel agreeing to sell body parts of aborted fetuses commanded the nation’s attention. There is no doubt in the mind of most who saw the interviews of these Planned Parenthood employees that they were marketing the hearts, kidneys, and other organs of recently alive infants.

U.S. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Some rights reservedPhoto by Gage Skidmore, from his Flickr account.

Following the showing of those interviews, protests from abortion partisans pointed out that the interviews were “secretly” recorded as if that were the real issue. True enough that secrecy was employed, but that was to be expected. Journalists regularly use such a tactic to get the “drop” on people with whom they disagree – as Mitt Romney found out prior to being defeated in 2012. Planned Parenthood employees would never admit to a known journalist that they were harvesting and selling the parts of babies. The videographers posed as customers and their taping had to be done secretly.

When members of the U.S. House of Representatives saw some of the tapings, they voted 240-181 to cease sending any taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood, a justifiable move. Planned Parenthood actually received $553 million from the federal government in 2014, a large portion of which, despite claims to the contrary, enabled the organization to provide abortions. There is no doubt that if the House measure ever reaches President Obama, he will promptly veto it. The number of outraged members of Congress isn’t lopsided enough to override such a veto.

Nevertheless, Congress has considered the matter serious enough to create its own investigation. A special House committee has been formed to look into abortion and related practices, including the marketing of infant body parts by Planned Parenthood. Headed by Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the panel’s spokesman has announced that investigations are underway, but there will be no conclusions reached until December, after the November elections.

A Texas grand jury looking into the matter concluded surprisingly that Planned Parenthood had done no wrong and, instead, indicted the two videographers, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. They were charged with a felony, the tampering of a driver’s license. And Daleiden was further charged with seeking to purchase fetal tissue. Yes, he created a phony license and yes, he admitted telling Planned Parenthood personnel of his desire to purchase what they were selling. He didn’t really want some body parts of infants torn from a woman’s womb. And he felt it necessary to hide his real identity with the marked-up license. He got what he set out to obtain and people throughout the nation saw televised evidence of Planned Parenthood personnel negotiating such deals.

Planned Parenthood officials now say they will no longer take money for marketing body parts, though they will still supply them for “research.” Defending themselves from the bad publicity generated by what has been shown of the secretly taped interviews, they have labeled Daleiden and Merritt “extreme” anti-abortion activists. In their view, abortion and marketing body parts taken from aborted fetuses isn’t extreme, nor is abortion itself worthy of such an adjective. But anyone who is opposed to abortion can expect to be so labeled.

Planned Parenthood has long been the nation’s largest abortion provider. Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision opening the floodgates of the grisly practice, the lives of more than 50 million babies have been terminated in the so-called “land of the free.” Planned Parenthood’s abortion business does operate within the law established by that decision. The mentality driving the nation’s chief abortion provider contends that whatever the Supreme Court says is okay. That’s all they’ve ever needed. So the real issue here is the Roe v. Wade decision that ought to be overturned because life begins at conception and the taking of a life once conceived is nothing else but murder. Although murdering a child in the womb has been granted legality, it surely fails the test of morality.

Unless the charges against Daleiden and Merritt are dropped, they could end up being the only criminals associated with the horrifying practice they exposed. Abortion and the side practice of sharing body parts of infants will be granted additional legality. And should the current thinking hold, doctoring a driver’s license in order to expose what Planned Parenthood does with funding that it obtains from the American people surely will be considered the greater crime.

What’s happening here is akin to focusing on a mass murderer’s parking ticket and letting him go free because of a technicality in the filming of his taking a handicapped space for which he had no permit.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Another “Middle of the Road” Speaker?

Another “Middle of the Road” Speaker?
by JBS President John F. McManus

As Speaker of the House of Representatives, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan will surely collaborate with the forces whose efforts are destroying our nation. Over the years, his voting record shows him siding with liberals and progressives on numerous key issues. To expect him to perform differently in the powerful Speaker post is unwarranted wishful thinking.

Congressman Paul Ryan has a cumulative score of 58% on the Freedom Index, which demonstrates the amount of adherence to the Constitution (Photo by United States Congress [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons).

A member of the House since 1999, Ryan catapulted to national prominence as Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012. Claiming to be a disciple of hard line economists Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Murray Rothbard, he ascended to chairmanship of the House Budget Committee. Just prior to the failed Romney/Ryan run for the White House, he produced the GOP’s economic plan labeled “Path To Prosperity.” Not something Hayek, von Mises, or Rothbard would come close to championing, it called for reducing the federal deficit at a snail’s pace.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Ryan plan wouldn’t achieve a balanced budget until the year 2040. Rather than leading to “Prosperity,” it would necessarily add to the already enormous national debt year after year for several decades.

Examination of the Ryan record in Congress shows that, in 1992, he voted for Export-Import Bank reauthorization, raising the national debt ceiling, and establishing normal trade relations with Communist-led Vietnam. The debt ceiling vote passed the House 215-214, meaning that Ryan alone could have reversed approval of amassing more red ink. The Vietnam trade approval won passage by 215-213, meaning that rejection of the proposal by Ryan might well have led to full rejection of the measure by the entire House. In 2007, he cast a vote in favor of special rights for homosexuals, and in 2008, he voted for bailouts for Wall Street.

Last year, Ryan gave more indication that he is not a conservative when he sided with the GOP’s neoconservative wing to support sending weaponry to Syrian rebels. He then voted for a measure calling for the federal government to supply military equipment to local police forces, a dangerous path for the federal government to gain control over local police. In 2015, he cast votes for military aid to Ukraine and for Trade Promotion Authority for President Obama’s use in inserting our nation into the sovereignty-destroying trade agreements with Pacific nations and the European Union. Ryan has even supported amnesty for illegal immigrants.

During the brief period when the 40-member House Freedom Caucus resisted the choice of another Boehner-like Speaker, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who has never been the friend of any true conservative individual or measure, spoke in favor of Ryan becoming the new Speaker. He said, “I hope he gets it. We’ve been able to work with him.”

If Reid feels comfortable with Ryan as Speaker, conservatives and constitutionalists are in for more disappointment. We hope we’re wrong, but Paul Ryan’s record gives evidence that he’s not what America needs as Speaker.

View the voting records of those in Congress with The New American’s Freedom Index and then hold them accountable.

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Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.