A decree is a rule of law issued by a head of state, such as a king or queen. In the United States, the executive orders made by the President are decrees. In non-legal English usage, however, “decree” refers to any authoritarian decision and, in this sense, the word carries a decidedly negative connotation.
Rule by decree appears to be the route Obama will take after the expected defeat of Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections on November 2.
Peter Nicholas and Christi Parsons of the Los Angeles Times report on October 6, 2010:
As President Obama remakes his senior staff, he is also shaping a new approach for the second half of his term: to advance his agenda through executive actions he can take on his own, rather than pushing plans through an increasingly hostile Congress.
A flurry of staff departures and promotions is playing out as the White House ends a nearly two-year period of intense legislative activity. Where the original staff was built to give Obama maximum clout in Congress, the new White House team won’t need the same leverage with lawmakers….
Winning passage of legislation wasn’t easy for Obama, even with Democrats in firm control of both houses of Congress. Conditions will get tougher if, as expected, the Republicans pick up seats in the midterm election next month, or possibly take control of Congress.
“Whether or not the Republicans take over majorities in one or both houses, the margins will be so much narrower that the strategy of putting together a Democratic bill and picking off a handful of Republicans to push it over the top won’t be viable anymore,” said William Galston, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
So the best arena for Obama to execute his plans may be his own branch of government. That means more executive orders, more use of the bully pulpit, and more deployment of his ample regulatory powers and the wide-ranging rulemaking authority of his Cabinet members. “This would fit into the status quo for the White House,” said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for House Republican whip Eric Cantor of Virginia. “The White House is showing no effort to work with Republicans. It has shown no interest in listening to the American people and has at all costs tried to ram through legislation that was tremendously unpopular.”
Here’s what Wikipedia says about Executive Orders:
U.S. Presidents have issued Executive Orders since 1789, usually to help officers and agencies of the Executive branch manage the operations within the Federal Government itself. Executive orders do have the full force of law since issuances are typically made in pursuance of certain Acts of Congress, some of which specifically delegate to the President some degree of discretionary power or are believed to have their authority for issuances based in a power inherently granted to the Executive by the Constitution.
But it is these cited or perceived justifications made by a President when authoring Executive Orders that have come under criticism for exceeding Executive authority and have been subject to legal proceedings even at various times throughout U.S. history concerning the legal validity or justification behind an order’s issuance.
Although there is no Constitutional provision or statute that explicitly permits Executive Orders, there is a vague grant of “executive power” given in Article II, Section 1, Clause 1 of the Constitution, and furthered by the declaration “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed” made in Article II, Section 3, Clause 4. At the minimum, most Executive Orders use these Constitutional reasonings as the authorization allowing for their issuance to be justified as part of the President’s sworn duties….
Until the 1950s, there were no rules or guidelines outlining what the president could or could not do through an Executive Order. However, the Supreme Court ruled in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 US 579 (1952) that Executive Order 10340 from President Harry S. Truman placing all steel mills in the country under federal control was invalid because it attempted to make law, rather than clarify or act to further a law put forth by the Congress or the Constitution. Presidents since this decision have generally been careful to cite which specific laws under which they are acting when issuing new Executive Orders.
This means that America is not supine before Obama’s Rule by Decree. He is not king, but an elected official accountable to The People and subject to the Constitution. It will take Congress to challenge his Executive Orders and, eventually, for the Supreme Court — now packed with two Obama appointees puppets — to adjudicate on those orders’ constitutionality. And those two institutions — Congress and SCOTUS — will do what is right only with the insistence of the American people.
All of which means that We the People must remain vigilant even if we win the November elections. Remember what Thomas Jefferson wrote in his letter to Edward Carrington, 1787:
“If once they [the people] become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, Judges, and Governors, shall all become wolves.”
H/t beloved fellows FS and Tina.