COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
SEPTEMBER 12, 2012
Serial No. 112–145
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
Available via the World Wide Web: http://judiciary.house.gov
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S ABUSE OF POWER
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2012
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY,
The Committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:10 a.m., in room
2141, Rayburn House Office Building, the Honorable Lamar Smith
(Chairman of the Committee) presiding.
This Committee has held hearings on many of the ways in which
the Obama administration has abused its power, ignored its duties,
evaded responsibility and overstepped the Constitution’s limits on
the President. Today’s hearing will look at the pattern of ignoring
constitutional limits created by all these examples of abuses.
The Administration has repeatedly, in my view, put its partisan
agenda above the rule of law. In doing so, it has eroded the constitutional and legal foundations that have kept America prosperous and free for over 200 years. President Obama has to an unprecedented extent failed to ‘‘take care that the laws be faithfully
executed.’’ Instead he, has repeatedly issued blanket waivers that
exempt large classes of the population from duly enacted laws.
For example, the President once acknowledged that for him to
‘‘simply through Executive order ignore’’ the immigration laws on
the books ‘‘would not conform with his appropriate role as President.’’ Nonetheless, he acted contrary to his own words and decided
not to enforce some immigration laws. As a result, in these times
of sustained unemployment, American workers will be forced to
compete with illegal immigrants who, according to the law should
not be given work permits.
Similarly, the Administration has issued waivers to the No Child
Left Behind Act and the Welfare reform bill that are so broad that
they effectively rewrite the law instead of enforcing it.
Just because you don’t like the law, doesn’t mean you can ignore
it. Many people have gone to jail for doing just that. The President
ignored the Senate’s constitutional role in the appointment process
in order to place partisans in key positions that regulate labor and
the financial markets. To do so, he took the unprecedented position
that he could make a so-called ‘‘recess’’ appointment even when the
Senate by its own rules, was not in recess.
The Administration also has shown contempt for Congressional
oversight of its activities. In order to hide documents related to the
Fast and Furious scandal the President asserted a broad executive
privilege that is not supported by precedent. Executive privilege
cannot apply to documents that don’t involve the President or his
close advisers ‘‘if there is any reason to believe government misconduct occurred.’’ Operation Fast and Furious and the Administration’s misleading statements to Congress about the operation are exactly the sort of misconduct that Presidents may not conceal behind a claim of privilege. By concealing the truth about Fast and
Furious behind an improper claim of privilege, the President has
undermined the constitutional requirement that the executive
branch answer for its actions to Congress and the American people.
The President has also ignored the Constitution’s protections of
individual rights, most notably religious freedom. By mandating
that employers pay for health care products and services that many
employers believe to be morally wrong, he has forced Americans to
choose between violating the law or violating their religious beliefs.
The Constitution does not allow the government to put Americans
to such a choice.
Together, these abuses by the Obama administration form a disturbing pattern. When the Constitution and laws limit the Administration’s ability to impose its partisan agenda, the President ignores the Constitution and the laws. This pattern of behavior hurts
our country, disrespects the Constitution and undermines our democracy. It is easy to think of disputes about the President’s power as abstract questions of constitutional theory, unimportant to anyone but law professors and D.C. Insiders. But when the Administration repeatedly ignores constitutional and legal limits on the President’s power, it undermines the rule of law, with very real consequences.
In 2008, the United States ranked number one in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. In just 4 years, we have fallen to the seventh most competitive economy in the world.
According to the report, a large part of America’s lost competitiveness comes from the decline in faith in public institutions and the government. The Obama administration’s continued abuse of authority contributes to this decline in faith in our institutions and
creates uncertainty that undermines America’s job creators and
America has been the most prosperous and free Nation in the
world in large part because of our adherence to the Constitution
and the rule of law. Today’s hearing examines how the Obama administration has ignored this long tradition and how we can return
That concludes my opening statement. And the gentleman from
Michigan, the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, is recognized for his.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, we have had a respectful relationship in the way that you have Chaired this Committee, but I must
observe that in the title for today’s hearing it is unnecessarily open
ended and provocative, and I would ask you to please consider
withdrawing the hearing title from the official record when we go
to print. And why? Because the use of such an incendiary term
without having any conclusion or hearings or evidence that lead to
this conclusion ‘‘abuse of power’’ is one that should not be taken
lightly. I believe it is inappropriate when no factual or legal predicate has been presented to justify this terminology and that in my
judgment the tenor of this hearing by its mere title alone fails to
distinguish the differences between opinion and true abuses of the
public trust. And of course all Members are entitled to their political opinion, but they are not entitled, none of us, to label every
disagreement with the White House as an abuse of power.
I know something about this because in 1965 when I came to this
body I have had enough disagreements since then with enough
Presidents to recognize that not every difference that I have with
them in policy preference is evidence of an abuse of Executive
President Nixon, for example, and I disagreed on many issues,
including civil rights and crime policy. Those were political disagreements. The abuses were separate. They came later. In 1973 the Senate Watergate Committee uncovered President Nixon’s enemies list. I was number 13 on that list, and so I am able to speak
from firsthand experience. The investigation of this Committee revealed that the Nixon administration’s plans to ‘‘use the available Federal machinery’’ to attack its ‘‘political enemies,’’ including illegal wiretaps, slush funds and break-ins, all of which happened. In
1974 we learned that the President had engaged directly in attempts to obstruct the Watergate investigation. These acts, damaging to the office and in many cases criminal as well, constituted true abuse of power.
Now it is accurate that as the Chairman of this Committee in the
110th Congress I called a hearing examining the Bush administration’s broad claims of Executive power. But we titled that hearing Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitations. We were not conclusionary. We did not determine what we thought was the case
and started off the hearing in that sense, as I think we are erroneously doing this morning. I believe we kept the tone of that hearing academic and respectful. We did not presuppose any wrongdoing in the title that was noticed to the public, as is the case here
And it is also true that in March of 2009 the Committee issued
a report titled Reining in the Imperial Presidency. In that report
totaling 478 pages, 1,736 footnotes, we used the term ‘‘abuse’’ with
respect to issues like the unlawful firing, hiring and firing of Justice Department personnel, warrantless wiretapping and torture of detainees. We concluded that this conduct constituted an abuse of executive authority only after years of research and documentation.
Our conclusions were backed by successful litigation and numerous
Inspector General reports. And we did not release these findings 2
months prior to a presidential election.
read the full transcript:
It is a waste of time and money. It is nothing more than a typical govt. smoke and mirrors act of "pretending" to be concerned. It is a joke. The filthy rat bastard obama owns the judicial system....does anyone actually think this pathetic group will actually incriminate their boss? gimme a break.
...abusive power? LMAO!!....ISN'T THAT LIKE, A PARKING TICKET, TO MURDER? you are right, ITS A JOKE!!
You are so correct Tony.... I will never expect anything from this administration as they are all corrupt and guilty of treason.... Congress is a joke and they tyrant wants to rule this country regardless of how he does it.... Only thing stopping him now is we are still armed and you can bet that is a hair puller for him... Obama is not the only filthy rat bastard, there are over 500 of them in D.C.
Thank God for guns.
Boy are you right.
So what the hell????
The Group of 8 was formed for the purpose of forcing Congress to stop SPENDING and cut our debt. Why then is Congress prolonging the Debt & Spending "again" while increasing taxes? This is Un-Constitutional as is the Group of 8, because according to OUR Constitution, the People elect 535 members of Congress to represent us, not 8!!! They have to either solve the fiscal mess, or fall off the cliff to force cuts in Spending. Prolonging this again will eventually cripple our economy and saddle our children with unpayable debt. Obama IS the problem, as are most Democrats............
this is all they do, is conduct hearings & investigations thinking we the people are stupid enough to fall for their smoke & mirrors acting, they do nothing & it costs us thousands of dollars but of course the plan is bankrupt the country so anyway they have to do it is ok with them
I say let them at it!! HAPPY NEWYEAR to us!!!! He clearly has been deliberate in all that he has done in the last 10 years!! This has been a SAUDI OIL SHAM, since day ! I have gone through a gazillion details about OBAMA and have listed them in previous emails! He is so smooth, he knows that the uninformed,and the people who are socialists,( and not even MUSLIM as he is), will side for him, so long as they get stuff!! How do we drag him out of the white houde? How did the ITALIANS do it with MUSSILINI, and his wife? A DICTATOR is a DICTATOR!! But it has never become more clear now, here in AMERICA!! This has been a takeover, little by little!! But what is worse...IT IS AN ISLAMIC COUP...(pronounced kooo) !!! We have 20 days, until OBAMA secures, his second term!! The DEMONCRATIC CONGRESS, are nothin but a bunch of SOCIALIST LAWYERS!! They are nothing but people abusing power, through manipulation!! They should be IMPEACHED, and stripped, of all their benefits, that WE THE PEOPLE, are dumb enough to keep spending on them!!SEMPER-FI !! Larry K.Parent,Naples,FL
How do we the people go about removing these guys since they are breaking the law. You are a Marine. I will gladly join the fight. Tell me and others how we can do this. I am starting my own harassment campaign against my congressman at town hall meetings and by speaking with the district director as often as possible. Do you know something that can be done on a larger scale?
Hey Buddy, One correction. Our foreign oil sources are 1) Canada, 2) Mexico, 3)Venezuela, 4) Great Britain (North Sea Fields), 5) Saudi, 6...) all the rest. The Saudi's have often been blamed for raising our oil prices but as our number 5 source of supply, you can see that it is simply another lie. Also, what with our new petroleum finds, our own sources are becoming steadily larger. Also, even in times of our worst shortages, we have been constantly exporting oil to Japan. Go figure. So I have to argue that there has been no Saudi oil sham although as a major player in the Middle East they are constantly slammed as Moslem troublemakers. They have, to their credit, frequently stabilized oil prices.
I, for one, loath and detest our communist pretend president. Only way to get rid of this swine is drag him out of the WH, kicking and screaming and down to the gallows where the Nation will be able to see justice rendered. Now that would be a coup!
OK here we are almost 5 months later and It's worse so what did it accomplish? It didn't even slow him down one bit. Everyone there got chastised for calling it abuse of pow.er. What are you supposed to call it. How can you fix it if you won't call it what it is?