From George Washington forward, every President has been accused of exceeding the authority granted them by the the Constitution. To listen to today's rhetoric and propaganda from the RIght, one would conclude that President Obama is the worst of the bunch. But in fact, he has used the EO less frequently than the last four presidents before him (PBO - 30.4/yr, PWB- 34.2, PBC - 45.4, PGB - 41.3, PRR --47.5)
The question for this forum, is which presidents seriously exceeded their authority for their time. To kick things off, I would offer President Thomas Jefferson in his purchase of the Louisiana Territory. What he did, in that case, is obligate the expenditure of money, well beyond what was available to him without Congressional authorization to spend it. At the time, this was not illegal (it is now), but it did violate a strict interpretation (and probably a loose one as well).
Can't speak for any of the other presidents, but Obama has apparently violated his authority on allowing 10 million illegal aliens to stay, against the laws of the nation. At least, the court thinks so.
Early in the Civil War, Lincoln suspended writ of habeas corpus without congressional approval. This after being 'shut down' by Chief Justice Taney not long before. I think that he was 'rebel' sympathizer.
According to the Right, President Obama has been the worse President ever, but I can think of several others that were less effective without scratching my head too feverously. I have never given much of my namesake to the opinions of the Right, anyway.
In spite of a president's overreach ,our Congress and Senate and even the Supreme courts show consistent "weakness of knees " in not collectively balancing the pre-designed system of politics . Instead sitting on fattened haunches and watching without an iota of action to control overreaching !
Today's Congress is James Madison's worst nightmare regarding the dangers of factions. They tried very hard to create a Constitution which made this kind of factionalism hard to achieve. In fact, they did give, in Article 1, Congress the power to tell states how to run federal elections, in this case banning gerrymandering, but they rarely use it. The founders weren't quite prescient enough to ban gerrymandering outright; in fact, it doesn't appear to have even been brought up in the Constitutional Convention.
The other thing that would help bring a Congress our founders intended is the California-style open primaries. If we had that kind of Congress, I doubt PBO would need to exercise Executive Order authority in the manner he has; but they forced his hand.
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