Weekly Columns

The Obama administration, like no other in recent years, has ignored the will of the American people time and time again. 

The list of instances where President Obama has bypassed Congress is long. Among his numerous executive actions, the President has stopped the deportation of certain illegal immigrants, raised the minimum wage for federal workers, and is attempting to impose a harmful energy policy similar to what Congress already rejected. 

In avoiding Congressional and public scrutiny of these unilateral decisions, the President has found a strong ally in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who blocks Republican oversight amendments in the Senate, dismisses calls to investigate Administration stonewalling and prevents any House-passed bills to stop the President’s actions from obtaining a vote in the Senate. Majority Leader Reid’s strategy is designed to protect the President and allow his actions to continue unfettered. 

Thankfully, the wisdom of our founding fathers gave us a third line of checks and balances—the judicial system. 

Two key decisions were announced as the Supreme Court closed out its most recent session and they highlight how important the judicial branch is to keeping the President in check when he overreaches and abuses his powers. 

In the case of National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, the Supreme Court ruled that President Obama violated the Constitution while appointing members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) during a pro forma session of the Senate in January 2012. 

This decision reaffirms our Founding Fathers’ vision of a checks-and-balances system that ensures no branch of government has majority control. The President is not above the law. He must follow the Constitution and allow the Senate to perform its advice and consent role. Debating the qualifications of people who represent the U.S. and oversee our agencies is important to ensuring that the President is surrounded by good advisors who are capable of performing their roles. This is exactly what 41 of my Senate colleagues and I argued in an “friend of the court” brief we filed in this case. 

In a separate decision, the Supreme Court struck a blow for religious freedom and against an overbearing federal government at the same time, ruling that closely held corporations with religious objections can refuse to pay for drugs and medical devices that cause abortions. 

In the case of Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, the Court said that the Administration went too far with its mandate to force employers with religious objections to pay for contraception for their employees if it runs counter to their religious beliefs. 

This nation was founded on the right to freely practice one’s religious convictions. Americans shouldn’t have to abandon those protections simply because they own a business. And yet, that is exactly what the Obama administration tried to force on businesses under this mandate. 

Going around Congress, instead of working with us, is not what the American people want. If that were the case, the desks in Congress would be occupied with individuals who would sign off on anything which the President asks. Perhaps the decisions of the Supreme Court will remind President Obama that he is not above the law and needs to heed the will of the American people when Congress tells him no.