Refresher on Separation of Powers:
The principle of separation of powers states that the executive, legislative, and judiciary powers of government should be divided into different branches and not concentrated in one. These departments should be separate and distinct because of the corrupting nature of power. If the body that made the laws could also enforce them and adjudicate disputes, it would likely do so in a preferential manner, undermining the rule of law and basic fairness. Power, in other words, must be checked, or it will be abused.
In the Federalist Papers, James Madison calls the combination of legislative, executive, and judicial powers “the very definition of tyranny.” The Framers did not think that merely separating powers on paper would do the trick. The Constitution gives each branch of government some powers over the others to permit it to resist encroachments. For instance, the veto power gives the President a check on Congress.
The Constitution therefore not only divides power but also sets it against itself, thereby creating a dynamism within the workings of government that uses the interests and incentives of those in government to enforce constitutional limits. The separation of powers doctrine also intends to improve the energy and efficiency of government by allowing each branch to specialize, in effect, in order to fulfill its unique function.
As stated in the Heritage Foundation’s First Principles series:
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The aim of such republicans as John Milton and Philip Hunton was to establish the rule of law by guaranteeing that those who made the law could not execute it and that those who executed it could not make it for the sake of their private advantage. In effect, of course, the doctrine was anti-monarchical, inasmuch as it reduced the King to the status of an “executive” (that is, someone who carries out the will of another)
Catch the word “anti-monarchical”? As in “anti-king”? There’s the rub.
Obama has presided as though he were a supreme ruler or monarch, thus it should come as no surprise when the President forgets the limits of his powers. Obama’s amnesia also covers the very fact that he works for the American people.
The President governs on behalf of the people; he does not rule over the citizens. President Obama’s Scandal-Palooza may be overwhelming, but patriots must demand inquiries and hearings. Americans must rise to the occasion and remind Obama he is no supreme ruler, he is no king.
Obama is nothing more and nothing less than a servant of the people in a government of the people: and it’s time he learned that Constitutional lesson.
*UPDATE: Jack Langer, Rep. Nunes’s communications director, emails this clarification:
I wanted to make a clarification for your article. What Rep. Nunes meant by “tapped” was that the DOJ seized the phone records, as has been widely reported. There was a little confusion between him and the host during the conversation: He did not mean to refer to phone records of the cloakroom itself, but of the Capitol. This refers to the phone records from the AP’s desk in the press gallery, which the DOJ admitted to looking at. He was explaining that if those phone records were seized, they would reveal a lot of conversations between the press and members of Congress, since reporters often speak to Members from the press gallery phones. The notion of the DOJ looking at phone records from the Capitol of conversations between Members of Congress and reporters is something that concerns Rep. Nunes, bringing up issues related to the separation of powers.
Although his comments were a bit unclear, he clarified soon after in the interview:
DN: So when they went after the AP reporters, right? Went after all of their phone records, they went after the phone records, including right up here in the House Gallery, right up from where I’m sitting right now. So you have a real separation of powers issue that did this really rise to the level that you would have to get phone records that would, that would most likely include members of Congress, because as you know…
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