Under America’s separation-of-powers principles, each branch of our federal government – Executive, Legislative and Judiciary – is vested with only those powers enumerated and specifically conferred to it by our Constitution, otherwise the power is left to the states.
As a refresher: Congress (Legislative Branch) has the power to create and enact law; the President (Executive Branch) has the power to carry out those laws in good faith, and the United States Supreme Court (Judiciary Branch) is vested with ultimate decision-making powers, including to interpret the Constitution; to hear argument and decide cases between parties; to uphold or strike down regulations and laws; to settle disputes between one state and another, and disputes arising between states and the federal government.
The Constitution is clear: only Congress is vested with powers to legislate and only the Judiciary is vested with authority to decide whether a rule of law is constitutional. Executive actions such as “Executive Orders” should not be used as a guise to usurp congressional or judicial authority – this is a hallmark of tyranny – exactly what our Framers went to war against.
However, it appears the simple stroke of a pen results in a President swiftly imposing an agenda through an Executive Order. Since 1994 through to this day, the Federal Register has published exactly 1,000 Executive Orders. The current administration has issued 94 so far.
On July 20, the White House announced its intention to take additional executive actions in light of what they are declaring a “climate emergency.” The fact that the administration declared climate to be an emergency at the moment Congress rejected legislating of the same, undercuts the administration’s reasoning and credibility and is a clear example of pronounced governmental overreach.
In fact, by members own accounts, Congress has been working to create law related to climate for over a year. This underscores the lack of emergency and illustrates an unconstitutional commandeering of legislative powers by the Executive branch.
Decisions out of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1952 through present day highlight attempts at this type of overreach by the Executive branch. From Youngstown v Sawyer (1952) through West Virginia v EPA (2022), the Supreme Court continues to reach the same conclusion: Executive powers are limited, and unnecessary executive orders are unconstitutional.