At Accuracy in Academia’s June 21 Author’s Night Ken Blackwell and Ken Klukowski discussed the premises of their book The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency.
“That is a very provocative title,” noted Blackwell, the former Ohio Secretary of State. The book does not, he cautioned, say that President Barack Obama is a “tyrant” or “evil,” but that his actions have undermined the principles of the U.S. Constitution and that “…Team Obama is determined to change the balance of power achieved through the separations of power and our American federalism.”
“He is attempting to concentrate power in the executive branch, giving him the power of a monarch,” argued Blackwell.
One method is through the appointment of czars, argue the two Kens. They outline three different types of “czars,” in their book. The first two types have some connections with Congressional authority but “The third—and most dangerous—are officials named by President Obama to certain posts that Obama fashions out of thin air,” they write in The Blueprint.
“Almost all are White House staff officials exercising the sort of power found in Cabinet secretaries or undersecretaries (which are Senate-confirmed positions), but were simply named to the brand-new positions by President Obama,” the write. “These officials, and even the offices they fill, were simply created by executive fiat.”
“This president has over two dozen czars,” said Klukowski, who is a senior legal analyst for the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU), at the event.
Blackwell maintained that, as outlined in the Declaration of Independence, all persons are endowed with rights by their creator, not by government. In contrast, czars like former
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” states the Declaration of Independence. “— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
In The Cost of Rights: Why Liberty Depends on Taxes, Sunstein and NYU Professor Stephen Holmes write that “No right is simply a right to be left alone by public officials.” Instead, all rights are positive rights or “amount to entitlements defined and safeguarded by law,” they argue.
Sunstein was confirmed by the Senate as the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in September of last year. “As the Obama administration’s regulatory ‘czar,’ Sunstein will be responsible for investigating the costs and benefits of the government’s regulatory policies, on issues ranging from financial services to environmental policy,” reported James K. Mcauley for The Harvard Crimson on September 13, 2009. Sunstein left UChi for Harvard in 2008.
Other czars, as mentioned in The Blueprint, include “energy czar” Carol Browner, “terrorism czar” John Brennan, “climate czar” Todd Stern, “economic czar” Paul Volcker, and the former “green jobs czar” Van Jones.
“The president believes in the power of positive law,” said Blackwell. “We, in fact, happen to be in this tug-of-war on the other side,” namely, the side of natural law.
“What we felt the need to say, because not enough other people were, is what this president is doing is not just wrong policy, it’s illegal,” said Klukowski. “It’s unconstitutional.”
Klukowski explained that under the U.S. Constitution the federal government, unlike state governments, is one of “limited jurisdiction” with specifically enumerated powers. Therefore, he argued, “…every single action of the federal government—legislative, executive, or judicial—anything that any organ of the national government does, must be traceable [to] and authorized by a specific provision of the U.S. Constitution.”
However, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was asked by CNS News where the Constitution specifically “grant[s] Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate” she replied, “Are you serious? Are you serious?” according to an audio recording released by CNSNews.com.
Klukowski said that he is one of the lawyers involved in the lawsuits against ObamaCare; he argued that the individual mandate is not only “bad policy” but “illegal.”
He questioned whether such laws would necessarily be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, however.
“Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor—these are the people that the President is putting on the bench to rubber stamp his [President Obama’s] agenda,” said Klukowski.
“Can you make law like card check or cap-and-trade through executive regulation?” he asked later. “Absolutely not, unless you have a Supreme Court who says ‘no, that’s okay.’”
Blackwell argued, “Look, I’m not sure what we can do to stop the Kagan nomination except nothing succeeds like good information,” describing the former Harvard Law Dean as “a very bright political operative with very, very little bench experience.”
Bethany Stotts is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.