“This Unchains the President”: Sen. Merkley Calls for Biden To Circumvent the Congress

When Madison described the essence of his constitutional vision of the separation of powers in Federalist 51, he declared “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” Madison believed that the three branches would preserve the balance of the Constitution by using the institutional interests of each branch to jealously protect their inherent powers. He clearly did not envision many of our current leaders in Congress who often call for presidents to circumvent their own institution when they are unable to prevail with legislation. The latest example is Sen. Jeff Merkley (D, Ore.).

In a Washington Post article, Sen. Merkley stated

  “This is an important moment. There is probably nothing more important for our nation and our world than for the United States to drive a bold, energetic transition in its energy economy from fossil fuels to renewable energy. This also unchains the president from waiting for Congress to act.”

The “chains” that Sen. Merkley is referencing are the powers set aside in Article I for Congress to make such decisions through the legislative process. Like so much else today, the suggestion is that one can support the Constitution so long as it yields to your demands. We have heard the same argument with those demanding packing or changing the Supreme Court.

Many Americans misunderstand the separation of powers as simply a division of authority between three branches of government. In fact, it was intended as a protection not of institutional but of individual rights, by preventing any branch from assuming enough power to become tyrannical. No branch is supposed to have enough power to govern alone. Once power becomes concentrated in the hands of a president, citizens are left only with the assurance that such unchecked power will be used wisely – a Faustian bargain the framers repeatedly warned us never to accept.

The Madisonian vision has long been on the decline in Congress. One of the lowest points was the State of the Union address by former President Barack Obama when he announced that he intended to go it alone in achieving his policy goals, refusing to yield to the actions of Congress. One would have expected an outcry, or at least stony silence, from a branch that was being told it would be circumvented. Instead, there was rapturous applause that bordered on a collective expression of institutional self-loathing.

Before members like Sen. Merkley “unchain” a president, they should consider the costs of such constitutional convenience. They should also consider that this president has racked up an impressive array of losses over exceeding his constitutional authority, including the recent loss on climate change before the Supreme Court.  In the wake of that stinging defeat, Sen. Merkley is calling for more of the same — unchaining the President from the limits of both the legislative and judicial branches.

113 thoughts on ““This Unchains the President”: Sen. Merkley Calls for Biden To Circumvent the Congress”

  1. [sarc]If you’re REALLY sincere about stopping those evil carbon emmissions, the ones that will render Gaia permanently uninhabitable, just nuke China and India! The shutdown of the world’s economy, mass starvation, nuclear fallout, etc. are small prices to pay if humans are then able to begin anew and get it right next time![/sarc]

  2. Many realize that elected politicians from Oregon do not represent the entire country. Oregon is a lost cause. California has become a lost cause, Washington State still has a chance to cure and get back to reality, but the jury is still out on it. One way to cure our National Debt is to sell Oregon to the highest non-hostile bidder, and to sell at least the coastal 1/2 of California to the highest bidder, probably a consortium of Japan, Mexico, Guatemala, and Colombia ( all non-hostiles). We could easily get 10 trillion for California alone — probably 2 or 3 trillion for Oregon. Then Representatives such as Nancy Pelosi and her ilk would not only be out of a job, they would no longer be part of the new 48 united states.

    Get those new 48 star US flags into production!

    Forgive me for fantasizing, but creative deal making such as this aren’t impossible —

  3. would that Americans follow Merkley’s lead. Why should Americans wait for election results? just storm the US Congress and “drive a bold, energetic transition in its” political future!

    uh huh


    1. That is what happens when the people do not trust those in power.

      Did those storming the Bastille wait ?

      What of Prague Spring or the Hungarian Revoluton ?

      What of the fall of the Berlin wall ?

      What of the democrats who stormed the Wisconsin state Capital in 2012 ?

      “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”

  4. That is a frightening thought.
    Seems some are ready and willing to scrape the Constitution when it is convenient for them.

    Read an article today about how solar panels that were put into service in the early 2000s are now approaching their end of life.
    The problem is only a small number of them are getting recycled (1 in 10). The rest are landfill bound.
    According the the study, about 80% of solar panels are recyclable. But that comes at a substantial cost that needs to be factored into the overall cost.
    Those who are pushing the go green idea never seem to take into account the entire cost, from the extraction of raw materials, processing of those materials, the manufacturing, and the end of life disposal.
    Tossing them into a landfill (some panels have toxic metals in them like lead, selenium and cadmium) is not a green solution.
    I am actually pro independent of fossil fuels. But no one has yet to show me the math (I know, racist) of how to do it that makes any kind of dang sense.
    Or does not require everyone to adopt a Amish Paradise (cue Weird Al).
    I do find it interesting some have changed the definition of what is “green” when it comes to Natural Gas and Nuclear, like those countries that suddenly find themselves facing a cold winter when Russia may cut the gas.

    1. Yeah . . . and those rare earth minerals? 80% of them come from China and the solar panels and batteries we covet (not to mention Nike shoes) are largely the products of slave labor. I guess the good part is that we don’t mine what REM we have here, and like oil we outsource their mining to the environmentally sensitive good folks under the control of the CCP!

      1. Brian Anonymous,
        You are not wrong.
        One of the reasons why batteries, solar panels, Nikes, are so cheap are China’s lax environmental regulations, and slave labor.
        Can you imagine someone like AOC having to pay for her iPhone that was all American made, paid a good living wage to the worker (union, pension, health care), held to US environmental standards, and pay for the recycling costs up front?
        That iPhone just might cost $5k. Or more.
        I hear AOC is complaining about having to maintain a dwelling in both NYC (her district) and DC. Meanwhile, the average American is struggling with paying for food and gas in the tank.

        1. Note that when the government put a cap on the deduction for real property taxes, it left a very generous limit for mortgage interest. Hmmm! I wonder who benefits from that. Oh! Folks with two residences and two mortgages!

  5. Here is a novel idea, “Let’s bypass the will of the voting citizens and just do what we want anyway.”

    The days are gone, so it seems, that legislators worked diligently and fought hard for things that would benefit their constituents. They negotiated hard, made some compromises, and crafted good laws that benefited the larger body of citizens. The opposing side congratulated the victors (mostly) and left the building as colleagues.

    We have now descended to the level of Roller Derby or the Jerry Springer Show. It is dangerous and destructive.

  6. Natacha seems to miss the whole tenor of Professor Turley’s note. A co-equal 3 parts of the government, by design, will magnify minority representation in order to block the tyranny of the majority. That’s the whole point. It forces compromise and moderation if someone wishes to listen. Strange to talk about gerrymandering and senate representation in the same breath when the senators have only 1 district to represent, their state. Biden only got 52.2% of the popular votes which is not even close to a landslide. A House that has a 5 seat majority of democrats and a Senate that is 50/50 (Bernie acts and quacks like a democrat) would seem to represent a close approximation of the presidential popular vote. FDR had up to 80 democratic senators which is why he was able to push the New Deal with no filibuster. Biden actually lost seats in the House.
    Also, democrats are just as well versed in the uses of the gerrymander tool as republicans. Just look at congressional districts from 1932-1994 when democrats controlled far more state legislatures. Or the recent House districts attempted in New York, and accomplished in Illinois. Crocodile Tears by Natacha.
    Maybe one should look at the abridgment of rights in those parliamentary democracies such as the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand “all for your own good”.
    Finally the last time the Prime Minister’s party in the UK had over 50% of the popular vote was about 1960.

  7. nothing more important for our nation and our world than for the United States to drive a bold, energetic transition in its energy economy from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

    $5-$8 gasoline is the goal for Democrats. Their goal is to make gasoline to expensive to use. Democrats want far less miles driven. Electric cars are a no starter. Batteries and the Charging of those batteries, need another decade of work and that will need several breakthroughs in technology that is not yet on the horizon.

    IF Climate change were real, we would be producing 80% of our electricity from Nuclear. (side note; New York Governor Houchel has taken 140 airplane or helicopter trips in the 7 months she has been in office, thats 5 trips per week. A lot considering the millions of people successfully working from home)

  8. As many note, here in comments everyday, The Constitution, is a huge obstruction to the agenda of leftist like Sen. Merkley. Democrats fail to advance their agenda by legislative action (because the majority of the Americans disagree with their agenda)

    1. I guess that’s why the Biden Administration has endorsed the Obama “pen and phone” approach. Not only that – the administrative state has grown. We have government agencies like the EPA and the SEC releasing multiple lengthy rule proposals with short comment periods. It’s all part of the Biden Administration’s climate change agenda. For example, the SEC released its Climate Risk Disclosure proposal for comment on 03-21-22. The first problem was that the 500-page proposal specified a comment period of 30 days. Thankfully, the financial services industry pushed back, and the deadline was extended. The proposal, if adopted, would impose huge costs on public reporting companies, thereby potentially compromising capital formation. Not only that – in order to make the required disclosures, it is quite possible that these reporting companies might have to modify operational aspects of their businesses. The aggressive approach taken by Sen. Merkley does not reflect well on Congress. In fact, the climate-related initiatives undertaken by the Biden Administration illustrate that the folks in charge know very little about enterprise risk management. If they did, we would not have incredibly high gas prices.

  9. Typical ” sore loser” position. If you can’t win by the rules, call for the rules to be changed. Just ” take my ball and go home”. Once had a Packer fan tell me that the Packers never really lose a game. Sometimes the clock just runs out. Unfortunately for people like the Oregonian, that pesky Constitution is getting in the way. AGAIN!

    1. That is familiar to readers of the 1 9 6 8 book ‘ INSTANT REPLAY : THE GREEN BAY DIARY OF JERRY KRAMER ‘ [ https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11902285-instant-replay ] , the peculiar and enduring conceit of a Packers team that would win five N . F . L . Championships during the late VINCE LOMBARDI ‘ s nine years as head coach .

      Even the 1 9 5 9 – 1 9 6 7 Packers occasionally sustained a one – sided loss . There is no denying their cumulative record [ 8 9 wins , 2 9 losses , 4 ties ] nor their exceptional run in the postseason
      [ the Packers won every elimination game except the N . F . L . Championship Game of 2 6 December 1 9 6 0 ] .

      Your point is well – taken , though . OREGON , which compiles votes through the mail , has a preponderance of Democratic voters along with one United States Senator [ RON WYDEN ] who is anxious to circumvent the authority of the Several States and make Vote – By – Mail mandatory nationwide [ Wyden and AMY KLOBUCHAR have both sponsored Vote – By – Mail proposals ] .

      It is obviously going to continue to be an article – of – faith of one Major Party : the Supreme Importance of bypassing the Checks & Balances of the Legislative Process in order to enact a ‘ Climate Change ‘ agenda because we as a Republic presumably do not have the luxury , the TIME , to go through debate – possible filibuster – possible defeat – possible realigning elections .

      While my Wife and I did enjoy our lone visit to the Beaver State , I ‘ ll be damned if I would ever consider living in a place so reactionary as to enact STATEWIDE RENT CONTROLS [ https://www.wsj.com/articles/oregons-progressive-politicians-want-rent-control-for-all-11548456652 ] and which continues steadfastly to indulge the violence – and – intimidation tactics of ANTIFA

      Oh , and to think : in their zeal to preserve , protect and defend the Environment [ and some menial jobs ] , pols in Oregon forbade motorists to PUMP THEIR OWN GASOLINE ,
      reason.com/2022/01/28/are-oregonians-ready-to-pump-their-own-gas/ , which I knew nothing about until my Wife and I rented a car and did a fair amount of driving during
      our four days of vacationing in August of 2 0 2 1 . As collossally dumb as the no – self – pump – rule seemed [ AND seems ] to me , it was worth it to be in Oregon to see the
      Total Eclipse Of The Sun AND the Evergreen Museum Of Aviation And Space Exploration on consecutive days .

      Still Oregonians elect AND re – elect Jeff Merkley , Ron Wyden , and KATE BROWN [ oregonlive.com/politics/2022/05/new-poll-finds-kate-brown-is-nations-least-popular-governor.html ] , and I decline to live in another state where my vote is hopelessly marginalized , having already had that woeful experience in VERMONT and CALIFORNIA .

      I could insist that Senator Merkley read the Constitution , but why bother ? There ‘ s no point in arguing with a True Believer .

      ADDENDA : A timely article from COMMENTARY ‘ s NOAH ROTHMAN , commentary.org/noah-rothman/the-climate-emergency-trumps-democracy/?utm_source=gravitec&utm_medium=push&utm_campaign= .

      1. Muhammad Flanagan,

        You might not be aware, but this web blog only permits two hyperlinks per comment. I edited yours above to remove the protocol and www subdomain from the last few links so that it would post. If in the future you would like the readership to review more than two links, this may be accomplished by submitting multiple comments of two or fewer hyperlinks each.

      2. I live in SW Oregon, and things are much different outside the major metropolitan centers (Portland, Corvalis, Salem, Medford, etc.). But the power is consolidated in the big cities and they outnumber us. From time to time there are calls for the eastern half of the state and a large part of the southern ½ to join Idaho. Or to form the State of Jefferson with the northern 1/4 of California.

        It won’t happen, of course, but we keep hoping . . .

  10. Just like the Reichstag “unchained” the German Chancellor after the Reichstag Fire?

    The Constitution does not have a provision to suspend itself, and for good reason.

    Plus, once you get in the habit, EVERYTHING is a reason to suspend that pesky old thing.

    1. Quote: “Plus, once you get in the habit, EVERYTHING is a reason to suspend that pesky old thing.”

      Amen! And it’s particulary worrisome that what’s suspendible today can easily become what’s suspendible tomorrow. So laws and constraints can ping-pong unpredictably, both in magnitude and direction.

      In short, one must not be in too great a rush to cancel standards of behavior or procedure.

  11. Without a adhering to the text of our clear, unambiguous constitution, we have NO constitution. Murkiness, confusion, blurry, shapeless, malleable, modified on a whim suits this era’s mantra: “ it is so, because I say it’s so.”

  12. Lefties are determined to achieve their goals regardless of the damage to the republic.


    The worm always turns and inevitably an unscrupulous conservative will use these tools.

    Americans will be the losers.

  13. Just another effort by Turley to defend the indefensible and the fallout from the election cheater. Neither the Congress nor the SCOTUS represents the majority of the American people. Thanks to gerrymandering, Republicans hold 48 seats in the Senate, but only represent 30% of the American people. People in rural areas in red states have massively outsized influence. Thanks to McConnell, Gorsuch took Merrick Garland’s seat on the SCOTUS on the alleged grounds that the proximity of the next election would make it unfair for a lifetime appointment to the SCOTUS to be made by Obama. The presidential election was over a year away. However, when RBG died and the election was weeks away, he shoved radical right wing Barrett onto the SCOTUS. The American people were denied an opportunity to hear the testimony of dozens of witnesses who begged Republicans to be heard about his character before he was shoved onto the SCOTUS. Republicans manipulated the process for SCOTUS appointments so their minority views could be foreced onto the majority of Americans who don’t agree with them. They took away the Constitutional right to abortion on flimsy grounds that most Constitutional scholars disagree with, and are coming after marriage equality, contraception and consensual sex between adults next.

    I guess, according to Turley, that the American people should just stand by and watch our hard fought for freedoms get flushed down the toilet by Republicans as if it’s all right.

    1. I am in total agreement with Jonathan Turley, just think if an executive order could be used to go war despite the opposition of the

    2. Neither the Congress nor the SCOTUS represents the majority of the American people.

      But, they do exactly represent the people. That you dont understand that, exposes ignorance of the people of the whole Nation.

  14. Congress has obfuscated it duties hiding behind the tails of the President for far to long… Let’s have executive orders that have little teeth and NO cost associated with it.

  15. I wonder if Sen. Jeff Merkley would be quite so enthusiastic were Trump to win the next presidential election . . . or Gov. DeSantis?

  16. We need to understand the distinction between a public servant and a megalomaniacal power hungry prog/socialist masquerading as a people’s representative.

  17. What else would you expect. The guy is from Oregon; they seem to have their own version of The Constitution in that state.

  18. Please … make sure the word “leaders,” when referring to a D, is put in quotation marks!

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