On June 28th, the New York Times touched on an issue that is striking a chord with the American people—President Clinton’s controversial use of executive orders and other measures that go way beyond the presidential powers outlined in the U.S. Constitution. The Times pointed out that he “has issued a blizzard of executive orders, regulations, proclamations and other decrees to achieve his goals, with or without the blessing of Congress.” It said he “is continually stretching his executive and regulatory authority to put his stamp on policy.”
A number of authorities, including Louis Fisher, an expert on constitutional law at the Congressional Research Service, and Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, were quoted by the Times as saying that Clinton was flouting both the Constitution and the law in several instances involving domestic and foreign policy. Lawyers at the Congressional Research Service said one of Clinton’s presidential appointments was a clear violation of law.
That is serious enough, but the Times didn’t the full story. The paper mentioned that, in one controversial action, Clinton used an executive order to create a 1.7 million acre park in Utah. But it didn’t mention another controversial move in the environmental area—Clinton’s so-called American Heritage Rivers Initiative. Clinton makes it sound like a harmless effort to protect some beautiful rivers. But the evidence shows that it is a blatant power grab by the government in which Clinton has claimed powers that belong to Congress. As the Heritage Foundation has pointed out, Clinton is claiming authority over interstate commerce, water rights and property rights. Heritage Foundation analyst Alex Annet said the initiative is a violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, protecting states’ rights.
Speaking of states’ rights, here is another Clinton executive order that the Times neglected to mention. On May 14th, while Clinton was in England, the White House issued an executive order on the topic of “federalism,” the relationship between the federal government and the states under the U.S. Constitution. Clinton’s order doesn’t mention the tenth amendment, which is a curious omission, but it does attempt to give the federal government power over the states in several controversial areas, including that of “international obligations.”
Writing in WorldNetDaily, Sarah Foster suggests that this reference is designed to allow Clinton to implement treaties that haven’t been ratified. She specifically mentions the global warming treaty that was signed by the Administration but not submited for ratification to the Senate. Foster notes, “Though unratified by the Senate, Clinton has adopted it as a policy for his administration. Since the convention is a creation of the U.N., Cinton can put our country under its mandates and deflect criticism by saying he’s only following obligations.”
Why does this happen? As the Times pointed out, Congress ridicules or denounces some of Clinton’s unilateral actions but acquiesces in many of them to avoid tough decisions. The line-item veto power given to the president by the Congress is an example of this trend. In this case, however, the Supreme Court ruled it was unconsitutional.