Did President Obama govern by fiat? Was his announcement of his new amnesty policy that he declared effective immediately and without congressional a constitutionally-permitted action of the part of the President of the United States? It is a peculiar precedent that no past president on record has done. But why are Speaker Boehner and Senator Lee of Utah not taking it to the Supreme Court—the Chief Justice John Robberts was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush and would most-likely hear the case.
Technically, the answer is yes. He used executive power without congressional approval therefore he performed the action of governing by fiat. Executive power is however, a legitimate power all U.S. presidents possess. It has to be used sparingly, but it can be used. The real question here is, Did he cross the line?
The President of the United States cannot use executive power to legislate or repeal laws enacted by Congress and either signed into law by the president or passed with a two-thirds majority or more such that vetoes can be overridden. Executive orders are not permanent changes and this one expires on 01-20-2017 at 12:01 AM when the presidency changes hands. But even temporary measures cannot override the law book, as it were.
Examples of legitimate executive orders include economic sanctions against a hostile nation as we have done on several occasions on Middle East nations as well as Cuba. Also, if General Motors does not promptly recall a faulty ignition switch, the president can take executive action to mandate the recall to ensure the safety of the vehicles we drive. But executive orders cannot alter the verbatim of an existing law in such a way that it drastically changes the meaning. This is the gray area members in all three branches of government in Washington should investigate.
The first tell-tale sign is that President Obama has been asked to do this on several occasions during the first six years of his presidency. He has repeatedly said as the leader of one of three branches of government (executive), that he did not have the authority to do so. He has quoted the concept of checks and balances and even said to the media on one occasion I am PRESIDENT Barrack Obama, I am not EMPORER Obama. Second, he is done campaigning. He is a two-term president and according to the Twenty-Third Amendment, he cannot run for re-election regardless how the people feel about him during the Decision-16 events. A popular quip used to describe such circumstances, if you have nothing, go ahead and risk everything; because you have nothing to lose. Without a majority in either house of Congress and without cooperation from the opposition party, Barrack Hussein Obama is simply marking time for two years; even Democrats have to be concerned about a viable candidate in 2016; especially if Hilary decides not to run.
The timing was very bad and he did it after Senate Majority Leader Elect Mitch McConnell R-KY) agreed to work with him, ultimately shoving McConnell under the bus, making the opposition even stronger than Republican who got elected claiming the majority intended. It raises the question if Obama did it for the benefit of the Latinos who would be separated from their families; to free America of its quasi-obligation to deport five million people which is a tall order logistically, or was it a lame duck president’s last hurrah? Without this fiat, decree, executive order, or whatever you want to call it, it is unlikely five million Latinos would be deported anyway; just rounding them all up would take more years than Obama has left to be president. He also did not grant them working papers. This means some will go back to Mexico and other Central American countries because they cannot afford food. Obama is worried about criminals and said criminals will be deported. Putting them to work is the best way to prevent them from resorting to crime and lawlessness. Sure, some were drug dealers and other types of outlaws before they crossed the borders, but most of them just want to earn an honest paycheck.
My conclusion is he stretched the Constitution as far as it could be stretched, the word fiat may be appropriate to describe his action, but no, he did not commit and unconstitutional act. What he did do was set a very high precedent for future presidents of both powers and make us Americans who believe in the American Dream to think about our fundamental freedoms and what needs to be done to protect them in the future. There is no American Dream if the United States of America cannot guarantee us the freedom to dream.