“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. “[D]rive a bold, energetic transition in its energy economy from fossil fuels to renewable energy.” (Sen. Merkley)

    As a strictly practical issue:

    Some 80% of the nation’s electricity is produced by fossil fuels. So every time you plug in your EV (or switch over to electric anything), you’re *increasing* the consumption of fossil fuels — and thus exacerbating “climate change.”

    Assuming the Eco zealots’ own premises, how does that policy make any sense?

  2. He seems to be confusing Biden with Chairman Mao. The President of the U.S. doesn’t have unilateral power or absolute authority. Never has. Who are these cretins? That is a rhetorical question.

      1. RE:”Oregon Democrat politicians in power are all cretins.” Interesting how Washington, Oregon, and California have gone to hell in a handbasket. One no longer wears flowers in one’s hair when going to San Francisco. One watches where one is stepping.

  3. Oh yes, just what we want to do is unchain a man who makes it possible for 53 people to die in the back of a truck at the border. Imagine the horror of your fingernails clawing at the metal inside the truck and your loved one drenched in sweat as she takes her last rasping breath calling for you to save her. Oh papa help me! Yes mister Biden we are all anxious to remove your chains.

  4. “In fact, [the separation of powers] was intended as a protection not of institutional but of *individual rights*, by preventing any branch from assuming enough power to become tyrannical.” (JT, emphasis added.)

    That is a brilliant, wonderfully terse, identification of the fundamental purpose of the uniquely American system of government, of the Constitution, and of the Bill of Rights. Those who argue that an Amendment (e.g., 2A) is something other than an individual right are contradicting that identification.

    1. “KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL”

      THE SUPREME COURT MUST ADJUDICATE FORCEFULLY AND DECIDE IN SUPPORT OF THE “MANIFEST TENOR” OF THE CONSTITUTION
      ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

      This is THEE most ridiculous thing I have read lately.

      Please cite the Constitution for an Article/Section regarding any dynamics and parameters of the “separation of powers.”

      America is under the dominion of the Constitution, not the irrelevant and immaterial mental and verbal meanderings of particular individuals engaged in theoretical discussion.

      This is war.

      No entity, other than Congress, and Congress following the constitutional procedure for amendment, has any power to legislate, modify legislation or modify legislation by “interpretation.”

      The Constitution establishes three branches of government:

      The legislative branch – with the power to legislate.

      The executive branch – with the power to execute that which has been legislated.

      The judicial branch – with the power merely to assure that actions comport with law and fundamental law.

      The first two engage in unconstitutional “overreach” continually, and the third has failed its sworn duty to support the literal, verbatim, “manifest tenor” of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

      The judicial branch, with emphasis on the Supreme Court has overseen the nullification and voidance of the Constitution and Bill of Rights beginning in 1860 when fully constitutional secession was denied (the Founders created America by availing themselves of their natural and God-given right to secession from Great Britain).
      ______________________________________________________________________________________________

      CHIEF JUSTICE TANEY TRIED AND FAILED ON HABEAS CORPUS

      “I HAVE EXERCISED ALL THE POWER WHICH THE CONSTITUTION AND LAWS CONFER ON ME, BUT THAT POWER HAS BEEN RESISTED BY A FORCE TOO STRONG FOR ME TO OVERCOME.”

      “On May 28, Taney issued an oral opinion, which was followed by a written opinion a few days later. He stated that the Constitution clearly intended for Congress, and not the President, to have to power to suspend the writ during emergencies.

      ‘The clause in the Constitution which authorizes the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is in the ninth section of the first article. This article is devoted to the Legislative Department of the United States, and has not the slightest reference to the Executive Department,’ Taney argued. ‘I can see no ground whatever for supposing that the President in any emergency or in any state of things can authorize the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, or arrest a citizen except in aid of the judicial power,’ Taney concluded.

      However, Taney noted that he didn’t have the physical power to enforce the writ in this case because of the nature of the conflict at hand. ‘I have exercised all the power which the Constitution and laws confer on me, but that power has been resisted by a force too strong for me to overcome,’ he said. But Taney did order that a copy of his opinion be sent directly to President Lincoln.”

      FREE AMERICA WAS LOST IN 1860

  5. Oh Mr. Turley,

    Government … That ole dusty thingy, It’s like from ’76’ or somethin.
    You’re sooooo stuck in the 80’s. Give it a break Moon Pie.
    What’s on Hulu tonight! Candy, Love Island, how bout N-Flixs … Stranger Things
    Relax … Forget about it (as they say in Jersey) – txt me 🦄

    1. Jon, The point is They don’t care.
      The Streaming Boob-Tube has them so; bamboozled, hypnotized, mesmerized, and LOST.

      And what are they going to do about it anyway? The Gov has them Tracked from Birth-to-Death and Beyond (tracking their DNA linage). Protest lead to no-where.

      So You are correct, in that We (the Older Gen.) can warn Them. Maybe by putting it a consumable-context for Their Generation. Like:

      There’s this thing Sen. Merkley [D-Oregon] is totally making a Game-of-Thrones move for the Power of the Presidency. Like the President is the “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them” kinda deal. Totally Wicked Bad.

      No one reads anymore, Why would they read some old thing like the CONSTITUTION when Life is Streamed into Their Eyes and directly into Their Minds.

  6. RER:”Sen. Merkley [D-Oregon] is calling for……unchaining the President from the limits of both the legislative and judicial branches”. When an electorate raises to high office, a representative of the people who advocates casting aside the tripartite government upon which this Constitutional Republic is founded, in order to achieve the aims and goals of a political party, ‘something is rotten in Denmark.’ It’s not hard to see where the ‘basket of deplorables’ can be found.

  7. By what authority may Biden declare a “climate emergency?”

    What limits are there under that authority to make such a declaration?

    Under that authority, what additional powers would such a declaration give him?

  8. RE:”Before members like Sen. Merkley “unchain” a president, they should consider the costs of such constitutional convenience.” ‘This is how liberty dies.”With applause!”

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