When the Founders drafted the Constitution, they had a clear understanding of tyranny. They also had a clear idea about how to prevent it from ever taking root in America. Their solution was to separate the government’s powers into three co-equal branches: the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. Each of these branches plays a vital role in our free society. Each serves as a check on the others. And to preserve our liberty, each must meet its responsibilities — and resist the temptation to encroach on the powers the Constitution accords to others.
And when the Gonzales-led Justice Department issued a 42-page single-spaced Memorandum in 2006 justifying the President’s decision to spy on Americans in violation of our “laws,” it was explained to us that the President is the “sole organ for the Nation in foreign affairs”; that “the President has independent authority to repel aggressive acts by third parties even without specific congressional authorization, and courts may not review the level of force selected”; and that statutes restricting the President’s actions relating to war “could probably be read as simply providing ‘a recommendation’ that the President could decline to follow at his discretion.”
These are the still-valid premises that led the Constitution-revering George W. Bush to spend the last six years ignoring and violating statutes whenever he wanted to, keeping Congress completely in the dark about what he was doing, and issuing one signing statement after the next explaining why he has no obligation to comply with what Congress adorably calls their “laws.”
It boggles the mind.
Via Andrew Sullivan.