Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Use of “Czars” Constitutional?

Czars has become the common term associated with advisors a president surrounds themselves with. While previous presidents have relied on "Czars" for advice on various topics but President Obama has taken it to new heights. To a point that Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) held a hearing to examine the legality of executive branch advisors (Czars) who are not confirmed by the Senate. Sen. Feingold said, "I think the public wants to know why there are people called czars" (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1009/27987.html). The fear among Senators is that the "Czars" are making administration policy without being vetted by Congress and may be in violation of the Constitution (http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/oct/07/feingold-hits-obamas-use-of-czars/). A move by the Obama administration to trample upon the Constitution is not a surprise. The move to nationalize the banking and automobile industry put the foot forward of ownership of private companies by the Federal Government.

During the opening moments of the Judiciary Committee's Constitution subcommittee, Sen. Feingold, who is the chairman, said, "While there is a long history of the use of White House advisers and czars, that does not mean we can assume they are constitutionally appropriate." Now, many believe that Fox News commentators, i.e. Glenn Beck, are behind the push to attack the Obama administration on the use of "Czars". Let's take a step back from that bias for a second. While previous administration have used "Czars", as I stated above, and concur with Sen. Feingold when raising the question if the use of "czars" violates the Constitution.

The White House did not send anyone to Sen. Feingold's subcommittee to discuss the role or defend the appointment of 30 something "Czars" within the Obama administration. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs quipped in response to why the White House declined to provide a witness was, "I don't know if Sen. Feingold's calling Franklin Roosevelt to be a witness. I would assume that Congress and Sen. Feingold have more weighty topics to grapple with than something like this." Mr. Gibbs, if these "Czars" are in fact a violation of the Constitution I do not know any more weightier topic for the Congress to "grapple". President Obama touts transparency within his administration. That being said, why did the White House not take the time to send representation to the subcommittee hearing?

Does President Obama believe his administration and the Executive branch is more important than the Legislative branch or the Balance of Powers the U.S. Constitution has established? The Appointments Clause of the Constitution gives the president the authority to make appointments with the advice and consent of the Senate but says that, "Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the president alone" (Feingold hits Obama's use of 'czars', The Washington Times). Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Al) has voiced his disapproval of Obama's high number of "Czars" by saying, "They are unelected, un-vetted, and unaccountable. They include individuals with extremist views and records – such as Van Jones, John Holdren, and Kevin Jennings – all of whom were installed in high government offices without having to face scrutiny before Congress or the American people" (http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/oct/07/feingold-hits-obamas-use-of-czars/).

The question remains no whether it's right because it was done by previous presidents; rather the issue is if it should ever been allowed to be done. Many feel the attacks on the Obama administration are motivated by race instead of the real reason; the growth of big Government.