In his first days in office, President Joe Biden has already begun to employ a strategy of legislating through the executive branch. If he oversteps the boundaries of the Constitution, six state attorneys general are ready to take action.
The AGs of West Virginia, Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana and Texas sent a warning letter to Biden, according to Fox News.
“The President cannot cut constitutional corners or shirk statutory strictures without inevitably doing more harm to our country than good,” they wrote in the letter.
“[B]y this letter we respectfully urge you when pursuing your policy priorities to honor the core constitutional tenets which should be appreciated and respected by every person entrusted with the honor and burdens of the presidency.”
The letter says that the AGs would not pursue litigation as a first option and that they would prefer meeting with Biden to discuss concerns they may have.
“Yet if you sign unconstitutional laws passed by Congress, it will be our responsibility and duty to challenge those laws in court,” the attorneys general wrote.
Although Biden is less than two weeks into his presidency, he has already given Americans reason for concern about his leadership.
He has routinely shown contempt for the checks placed on the executive branch in the Constitution, as evidenced by his signing of 40 executive orders or actions in week one of his presidency, according to the New York Post.
In addition, Biden himself has spoken out in the past against governing via executive order.
“I have this strange notion: We are a democracy,” Biden told ABC News in October.
“Some of my Republican friends and some of my Democratic friends even occasionally say, ‘Well, if you can’t get the votes, by executive order you’re going to do something.’ Things you can’t do by executive order unless you’re a dictator. We’re a democracy. We need consensus.”
.@JoeBiden in October: “I have this strange notion, we are a democracy … if you can’t get the votes … you can’t [legislate] by executive order unless you’re a dictator. We’re a democracy. We need consensus.” pic.twitter.com/7UotJCXSm3
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 26, 2021
This was in response to a question about tax policy, which Biden has not used an executive order to change. Still, his comments seem to be in opposition to the strategy he has employed since assuming office.
In that sense, the AGs who wrote this letter already have reason to believe Biden has violated the Constitution. So far, they seem to believe the actions Biden has taken are not too overreaching.
If he begins to pursue more serious laws via executive order instead of Congress, they will certainly have reason to sue.
Furthermore, Biden’s strategy does not even make logical sense. The Democrats control both the House and the Senate, so he could feasibly pass at least some laws in a traditional manner.
Instead of taking the time to do that, he has apparently found it easier to just unilaterally declare legislation. It may be easier, but it is not helpful to our democracy.
Even some in the liberal establishment media have begun to criticize Biden over this issue. The New York Times editorial board has seemingly realized that Biden is opening the door for his successor to do exactly what Biden himself is doing.
“Executive actions are far more ephemeral and easily discarded than legislation, which can set up a whipsaw effect, as each president scrambles to undo the work of his predecessor,” the board wrote.
“Just as Mr. Trump set about reversing as many of President Barack Obama’s directives as possible, Mr. Biden is now working to reverse many of Mr. Trump’s reversals.”
The unsaid implication, of course, is that the next Republican president will similarly undo as many of Biden’s orders as he can.
There’s a reason our Constitution sets up our democracy the way it does. There’s a reason the Founding Fathers didn’t even put the words “executive order” in the document.
If Biden ignores that, these six AGs have every right to sue.
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