Image Source: http://www.offthegridnews.com/how-to-2/obama-climate-change-executive-order-could-impact-property-rights-states-rights/
Executive orders: are they an exploitation of presidential power or a necessary means to get things done? According to critics, Obama has taken things too far with his recent executive orders on immigration and gun control. But, Obama may not be misusing his power as much as a lot of people may have come to think.
In an effort to grant immunity for 5 million illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as children, President Obama has landed himself in the middle of a Supreme Court case challenging the legality of his actions. Obama issued an executive order in order to protect these immigrants, but the Supreme Court has raised the question of “whether Obama’s actions violated the constitutional provision requiring him to ‘take care that the Laws be faithfully executed’ — in essence, whether existing law bars the president from making the kinds of enforcement changes he sought to make,” according to an article on Politico.com. The repercussions of this order, as evidenced by the call to court, included Conservatives accusing Obama of “overreaching” his powers as president.
However, this was not the only time Obama had issued an executive order regarding a controversial subject; another recently issued order was in favor of increased gun control. Obama issued this order amid a lot of controversies, especially from the Conservative side. According to FoxNews, Trump said he would overturn the actions if he ever got into office, saying, “We're not changing the Second Amendment. I will veto that. I will un-sign that so fast.” The threat to gun-rights proponents lies in the fear that Obama will take their guns away and undermine their Constitutional right. To be clear, Obama’s executive order was not meant to make gun ownership illegal; it was simply a means to place stricter restrictions on those selling and buying guns. And those restrictions don’t seem to be as restricting as they are logical. The new laws would increase the number of background checks, especially at places where gun laws are often brushed under the rug: gun shows, flea markets, and online purchases.
Part of what makes these policies – immigration and gun control – much more controversial than they were to begin with is the very nature of an executive order. When initially announced, it almost sounded like an abuse of power, a way for the president to push his agenda through no matter the opposition. As stated on FoxNews.com, “Obama's actions mark a renewed bid by the president to enact gun control measures with or without Congress.” Meaning, it doesn’t matter if Congress says no; the president says yes.
However, there are two reasons why this may not be the case: firstly, the president issues executive orders all the time. In fact, according to the national archives, Obama has issued 219 executive orders since 2009. Clearly, every single one of these orders couldn’t possibly have been as powerful as critics seem to claim. Even the White House acknowledges the fact that executive orders don’t carry too much legal weight: "While President Obama will sign 23 Executive Actions … he was clear that he cannot and should not act alone: The most important changes depend on Congressional action." Secondly, Obama’s presidency has notoriously been defined by his ongoing struggle with a difficult Congress. This means that any time he proposes a new law, he is met with constant opposition that makes his job much harder to do. Take Obamacare, for example. Obama’s bill was met with a lot of backlash and challenged at the Supreme Court level on its legality, where it was eventually upheld as constitutional. It could make sense that he took the issues as far as executive orders because he wanted to get something done about problems that are very prevalent and urgent in the nation today. So, are these executive actions legal? Well, that fact remains for the Supreme Court to decide. The necessity of them, however, cannot be denied.
Editor in Chief: Mary Schiavone
I am a sophomore with a double-major in English and History.
Muzammil is a Junior in the Bioengineering department, with a concentration in Computational and Systems Biology. Muzammil plans to attend law school after graduating college, with the hopes of serving low-income/homeless families and death row inmates.
I'm Olivia Wu, a sophomore from ACE major, Public Policy and Law Concentration. I am also minoring in Political Science. I have a keen interest in environmental law and international law.
I am a Junior majoring in Communication and minoring in French
A current senior majoring in History at UIUC.
My name is Yao Xiao. I am a junior in mathematics and economics. I love reading, music, and math. Italo Calvino and Anton Chekhov are my favorite writers.