Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Morgan Griffith on Burning the Constitution

From Congressman Morgan Griffith's E-Newsletter:

"EPA: “Burning the Constitution”

Last week at an Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing, I was honored to hear testimony regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) so-called “Clean Power Plan” from legal experts including Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe.  Tribe is a liberal, environmental, legal rock star.  In fact, the POLITICO inside-the-beltway news journal describes Tribe as a "liberal legal lion.”  Interestingly, Tribe taught constitutional law to President Obama, and served as a judicial adviser to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.  He is no conservative.  But apparently he is a patriot and a defender of the U.S. Constitution.

Don’t let his relationship with the President fool you.  Tribe’s testimony slammed the Administration’s “Clean Power Plan,” saying:
“EPA is attempting an unconstitutional trifecta: usurping the prerogatives of the States, Congress, and the Federal Courts – all at once.  Much is up for grabs in this complex area.  But burning the Constitution of the United States – about which I care deeply – cannot be part of our national energy policy…” 

And this is despite the fact that Tribe instructed the first environmental law class in the United States and supports “countless” environmental causes.  Tribe may agree with the EPA’s end goal, but he doesn’t think the agency has the authority to accomplish it in this manner.

While a President or Members of Congress may wish for a certain policy to take effect, we have an obligation first to the Constitution.  As Tribe noted in his testimony:

          “EPA possesses only the authority granted to it by Congress.”

As he also noted in a December 2014 Wall Street Journal article:
 “The brute fact is that the Obama Administration failed to get climate legislation through Congress.  Yet the EPA is acting as though it has the legislative authority anyway to re-engineer the nation’s electric generating system and power grid.  It does not.”

But Tribe isn’t the only constitutional law scholar and Obama supporter to say this Administration is going too far.

Jonathan Turley, a respected George Washington University law professor who has confirmed that he voted for President Obama, said in 2012:
“In many ways, President Obama has fulfilled the dream of an imperial presidency that Richard Nixon strived for.  On everything from [DOMA] to the gaming laws, this is a President who is now functioning as a super legislator.  He is effectively negating parts of the criminal code because he disagrees with them.  That does go beyond the pale.” 

Turley has spoken out a number of times regarding this Administration’s apparent affinity for executive action and overreach, and had been tasked by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) with handling the House of Representatives’ lawsuit against the President regarding certain Administration actions relating to the Obamacare health care law.

Further, Bruce Ackerman, a Yale Law School professor described by the Washington Post as a “famous liberal constitutional law scholar” wrote in a 2014 Wall Street Journal opinion piece in regard to action against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) without congressional authority:
“[President George W.] Bush gained explicit congressional consent for his invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.  In contrast, the Obama administration has not even published a legal opinion attempting to justify the president’s assertion of unilateral war-making authority.  This is because no serious opinion can be written.” 
And these three gentlemen are not the only liberal critics of this Administration’s overreach.  Among others, in a recent teletown hall, a self-described Democrat constituent indicated the only thing he agreed with me on was trying to check this Administration’s overreach.

Like the constituent, I believe that first as Americans, we must agree to defend the Constitution.  Then we have the freedom to disagree about all the other issues.

Benjamin Franklin, emerging from the Constitutional Convention, is said to have been asked what sort of government had been created.  As the story goes, Franklin responded, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

I will fight the so-called “burning of the Constitution” to ensure our Republic survives.  I pray you will do the same.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office.  You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671.  To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.  Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives."