I find myself having to often defend against libertarian critique of my interest in the U.S. Constitution and the history of the republic. (Yes, imagine making excuses for intellectual curiosity.) I’m fascinated by it all. The disdain for American constitutional history among some libertarians seems to stem from laziness, which has invariably fed an attitude that treats the non-aggression axiom as if it materialized magically, and was handed down to the faithful at a Mount-Sinai like event, rather than from “the nit and the grit of the history and culture from which it emerged,” in the words of Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.
It’s pitiful that one should have to defend against an incurious, ahistorical mindset. Nevertheless, I plead guilty of an interest in Jonathan Turley’s February 26, 2014 remarks to the Committee on the Judiciary, of the United States House of Representatives, even though, as a libertarian, I most certainly do not identify with their impetus: “Enforcing the President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws.”
Most of what the government does is either naturally illicit, immoral or both. If a president arose who refused to enforce MOST of our laws; I’d cheer him on. And one can hardly accuse the Judiciary of not doing much, as Turley does. The opposite is the case: there are no means to punish the Bench for its infractions (such as Zero Care).
Still and all, Turley is interesting (I apologized for my interest, did I not?), and he writes beautifully, using some marvelous analogies:
… We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis with sweeping implications for our system of government. There has been a massive gravitational shift of authority to the Executive Branch that threatens
the stability and functionality of our tripartite system. To be sure, this shift did not begin with President Obama. However, it has accelerated at an alarming rate under this Administration. These changes are occurring in a political environment with seemingly little oxygen for dialogue, let alone compromise. Indeed, the current
anaerobic conditions are breaking down the muscle of the constitutional
system that protects us all. Of even greater concern is the fact that the other two branches appear passive, if not inert, as the Executive Branch has assumed such power. As someone who voted for President Obama and agrees with many of his policies, it is often hard to separate the ends from the means of presidential action. Indeed, despite decades of thinking and writing about the separation of powers, I have had momentary lapses where I privately rejoiced in seeing actions on goals that I share, even though they
were done in the circumvention of Congress.
There is no license in our system to act, as President Obama has promised, “with or without Congress” in these areas. During periods of political division, compromise is clearly often hard to come by. That reflects a divided country as a whole. Such opposition cannot be the justification for circumvention of the legislative branch. Otherwise, the separation of powers would only be respected to the extent that it
serves to ratify the wishes of a president …