Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

A defining moment: The Supreme Court could curb Obama's power

By George Will



JewishWorldReview.com | Constitutional arguments that seem as dry as dust can have momentous consequences. On Monday, the Supreme Court’s nine fine minds will hear oral arguments about the meaning of “the” and “happen.” What they decide could advance the urgent project of reining in rampant executive power.

“The president,” says the Constitution, “shall have the power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate” (emphasis added). Monday’s case concerns whether Barack Obama made recess appointments when the Senate was not in recess, and made them to fill vacancies that did not happen during a recess.

In 2012, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rendered a decision adverse to a soft-drink bottler in Yakima, Wash. The bottler asked the court to declare the NLRB’s intervention unlawful because the board did not have a legitimate quorum, three members having been installed by Obama when the Senate was not in recess as the Framers understood this term.

Republicans, wanting to block some Obama nominations, used a practice Democrats used in 2007 when they controlled the Senate and wanted to block some George W. Bush appointments. Operating under a unanimous-consent agreement — no Democrat objected — pro forma sessions occurred Jan. 3 and Jan. 6 of 2012. Obama declared the Senate in recess Jan. 4 and made his NLRB appointments, thereby disregarding the Senate’s determination of the rules of its proceedings and the settled practice both parties have used to remain not in recess even when most senators are away.



The Obama administration argues that the word “happen” is a synonym for “exist.” And it rejects the argument that an intra-session Senate break is a synonym for “adjournment,” not “recess.” This, however, ignores the reasonable reading of the definite article: Recess appointments fill vacancies that “happen,” meaning come about, during “the” recess of the Senate — the one break that occurs between sessions, which, until the Civil War, usually lasted only three to six months.

The first president made the first recess appointment in the first year of his first term, in 1789, when travel was slow and arduous, and Congress was usually not in session. The recess appointments clause was written when conditions made such a power crucial. Obama, however, contends that in today’s world of instant communication and easy travel, he deserves a much larger — almost unlimited — recess appointment power.

His administration argues that “at least 14 presidents have, collectively, made at least 600 civilian appointments (and thousands of military ones) during intra-session recesses.” But Obama’s action regarding the NLRB is characteristic of his aggressive expansion of presidential power. He is the first president to make recess appointments when the Senate was convening pro forma sessions every three days, and he has articulated an anti-constitutional defense of his aggression:

“I refuse to take no for an answer. When Congress refuses to act . . . I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them.”

RECEIVE LIBERTY LOVING COLUMNISTS IN YOUR INBOX … FOR FREE!

Receive Will and many, many more. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.

If he really can refuse a “no” answer, then the Senate’s role in the appointment process is vitiated. Now the court should apprise him of what he cannot do without Congress. Which means a Madisonian dialectic is occurring: The executive’s usurpation of power has provoked the legislature, precipitating an overdue judicial intervention to clarify constitutional boundaries. The Constitution’s text, and perhaps its original meaning, may be at odds with historical practice.

Because the ability to defeat by filibuster some presidential nominees has recently been restricted, perhaps not for the last time, presidents will have less need to resort to recess appointments. Nevertheless, were the court to uphold Obama’s action, two of the Senate’s constitutional powers would be substantially reduced — the power (which the House also has) to “determine the rules of its proceedings,” and the power to reject presidential nominees.

Many presidents have chafed against limits to their power, but in progressive presidents normal political ambition is alloyed with a validating ideology. Woodrow Wilson provided the progressive template by disparaging the separation of powers as an anachronistic impediment to the presidential power requisite for the modern age.

Monday’s argument will be another manifestation of America’s intermittent efforts to tame executive power, efforts that predate nationhood: The Declaration of Independence is a menu of complaints against “a long train of abuses and usurpations” by “the present King of Great Britain.” The present president’s cavalier approach to statutes (as with his unilateral rewriting of the Affordable Care Act) and the Constitution (see four paragraphs above) make Monday’s argument important.

• Archives

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

George Will's latest book is "With a Happy Eye but: America and the World, 1997-2002" to purchase a copy, click here. Comment on this column by clicking here.

© 2013 WPWG

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles

QUANTCAST