The Challenges In Exercising Oversight Responsibility

Congress is charged with the responsibility of oversight of the Justice Department. It is part of the checks and balances that are supposed to function within our government. Congress is within its bounds when it asks for documents from the Justice Department. However, that does not necessarily mean that the Justice Department is cooperative in the process. Particularly if the Justice Department may have been coloring outside the lines in recent history.

Catherine Herridge posted a story at Fox News today about recent clashes between Congress and the Department of Justice. It is becoming very obvious that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is not a fan of Congressional oversight.

The article reports:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to “subpoena” emails, phone records and other documents from lawmakers and staff on a Republican-led House committee during a tense meeting earlier this year, according to emails reviewed by Fox News documenting the encounter and reflecting what aides described as a “personal attack.”

The emails memorialized a January 2018 closed-door meeting involving senior FBI and Justice Department officials as well as members of the House Intelligence Committee. The account claimed Rosenstein threatened to turn the tables on the committee’s inquiries regarding the Russia probe. 

“The DAG [Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein] criticized the Committee for sending our requests in writing and was further critical of the Committee’s request to have DOJ/FBI do the same when responding,” the committee’s then-senior counsel for counterterrorism Kash Patel wrote to the House Office of General Counsel. “Going so far as to say that if the Committee likes being litigators, then ‘we [DOJ] too [are] litigators, and we will subpoena your records and your emails,’ referring to HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] and Congress overall.”

A second House committee staffer at the meeting backed up Patel’s account, writing: “Let me just add that watching the Deputy Attorney General launch a sustained personal attack against a congressional staffer in retaliation for vigorous oversight was astonishing and disheartening. … Also, having the nation’s #1 (for these matters) law enforcement officer threaten to ‘subpoena your calls and emails’ was downright chilling.”

This Thursday we will finally see the Inspector General’s report. It will be interesting to see if Rob Rosenstein is mentioned in this report.

A Different Take On The Constitutionality Of ObamaCare

The Daily Caller posted an article today about changes made to ObamaCare by Congress. The article reminds us that in 2017, the Republican-majority Congress did not have the votes to repeal the ACA, but did set the individual mandate penalty at zero. They didn’t repeal it, but they took the teeth out of it.

The article then reminds of the Supreme Court’s decision on ObamaCare:

In 2012, the five conservative justices on the United States Supreme Court (including Chief justice John Roberts) held that key portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exceeded Congress’s constitutional authority under the Commerce Clause. But, Chief Justice Roberts then joined the four liberal justices on the Court in upholding the ACA as a tax under Congress’s taxing power because it generated revenue for the federal government.

The question then becomes, “If ObamaCare is no longer generating revenue, is it still a tax?’ If it is no longer a tax, does it still fall under the Commerce Clause?”

The article states:

A recent op-ed at The Federalist claims that striking down the ACA would be “judicial activism.” The article doesn’t defend the ACA as constitutional, but argues that conservatives shouldn’t ask “unelected judges to do what elected members of Congress took great pains to avoid.”

Such a broad view of “judicial activism” would render virtually any judicial review out of bounds. More importantly, it is contrary to the very system of checks and balances set up by the Founders in the Constitution. There is no Constitutional duty to persuade a majority of Congress to stop violating the Constitution—that’s what makes it a written constitution in the first place.

The article concludes:

And there is the rub. Judicial activism, rightly understood, is when a court tries to exercise the legislative function — i.e., when a court writes laws instead of saying what the law is. But asking courts to carve out the unconstitutional provisions from laws is exactly that. Advocating for severability asks the judicial branch to judge the law Congress should have written, not the one it did. A more restrained approach would be to strike down the whole law and let Congress decide whether it wants to pass the law again without the unconstitutional provisions included.

An old saying goes something like: “When you mix a cup of sewage in a barrel of wine, you end up with a barrel of sewage and have to throw the whole thing out.” To extend the metaphor, courts shouldn’t be in the business of sifting through a law to pick the sewage out of the wine, they should throw the whole thing out. Striking down unconstitutional laws is not judicial activism, and it is well within the role of the judiciary to strike the entire ACA as such.

It is definitely time to get rid of the barrel of sewage!

It May Not Be A New Beginning, But It Is The End Of Something Awful

One of the main problems with the Obama Administration has been the President’s total disregard for the U.S. Constitution. This was illustrated by comments like “I have a pen and a phone.” Well, the President may have a pen and a phone, but that is not the way the American political system is supposed to work. The U.S. Constitution establishes three distinct branches of government designed to check and balance each other. Hopefully the results of yesterday’s election will move the country closer to the government our Founding Fathers designed.

Katie Pavlich at Townhall.com posted an article today about President Obama’s reaction to yesterday’s election.

The article reports:

The President was asked about whether he will be changing his personal political agenda to accommodate a new Republican Senate and House. He danced around the issue and refused to say specifically what he’ll do differently in the future to get things done but did say he is “open to Republican ideas.”

Congress will pass some bills that I cannot sign and I will take some actions that Congress will not like,” Obama said. “To everyone who voted I want you to know I hear you, to the two thirds of Americans chose not to participate, I hear you too.” 

Obama failed to take any responsibility for the massive rebuttal of Democrats at the polls yesterday as Democratic and Republican presidents have typically done in the past after wave elections against their Party. Further, he argued messaging about policy was the reason why Democrats lost yesterday, not because of the policies themselves.

Democrats in Congress will have a decision to make. Many of their colleagues lost their jobs yesterday after almost always voting for President Obama’s policies. President Obama will not be in office after 2016. Do the Democrats want to continue to support an agenda that cost their colleagues their jobs? Also, I have not yet been able to find out what percentage of eligible voters voted in this election, but I suspect it was higher than one-third. I don’t think two-thirds of Americans stayed home, and if they did, they chose not to have a voice.

This is a chance for a new beginning for America. It is a chance to get our debt under control and to allow bipartisan bills from the House of Representatives to be voted on in the Senate. It is a chance for Congress to stop playing political games and actually get something done–even with a President who will probably continue to play political games.

One Perspective On The Mid-term Election

Michael Goodwin at the New York Post posted an article with an interesting perspective on the mid-term elections. Mr. Goodwin noted that even as a daily misstep is coming from the Obama Administration, President Obama seems to be saying that he is blameless in whatever disaster is unfolding.

The article notes:

We are witnessing the total collapse of a bad idea. Obamaism, a quasi-socialist commitment to a more powerful government at home and an abdication of American leadership around the world, is being exposed as a historic calamity. It is fueling domestic fear and global disorder and may well lead to a world war.

If there is a smidgen of a silver lining, it is that the unraveling, complete with Obama’s shameless attempts to duck responsibility, is playing out on the eve of the midterm elections. Fortunately, voters seem ready to respond by giving Republicans control of both houses of congress.

…He was aided and abetted by every Democrat in Congress. They marched in lockstep with his cockamamie policies, from ObamaCare to open borders. They protected corrupt leaders in numerous federal agencies, from the IRS to the Genera Services Administration. They stymied efforts to find the truth about Benghazi and the Fast and Furious gunrunning debacle.

They ceded their constitutional obligations and allowed Obama to crash the system of checks and balances. The vast majority stood silent while he gutted the military and abandoned our allies, including Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and courted Iran, the most menacing nation on earth.

With painfully few exceptions, Democrats put their loyalty to him above their duty to America.

And now they must be punished. All of them.

Mr. Goodwin notes that he is a registered Democrat. However, he suggests that what is happening in the country at this moment is a national emergency and the only solution is to vote Republican for every federal office. I understand where he is coming from–I used to be a Democrat.