As the liberal excesses of President Barack Obama mount, talk of impeachment inevitably rises in frequency and pitch. His flexing of executive powers to further an aggressive and divisive agenda has prompted both commentators and rank-and-file citizens to raise the issue. As the subject of impeaching and removing President Obama increasingly is batted around in syndicated columns, talk shows and neighborhood coffee houses, a new book examines exhaustively the legal and constitutional basis for such congressional action.
In Faithless Execution, Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, outlines and assesses the case. “The power to enforce the law,” McCarthy notes, “which carries with it the equally salient power not to enforce the law, is a president’s most imposing domestic weapon, rivaled in importance only by the awesome authority inherent in a president’s status as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.” He believes Obama has abused that power, and that conclusion lays the foundation for the case McCarthy makes for impeachment. The “burden of this book” is “to persuade readers that President Obama and his administration are engaged in” a campaign to undermine the Constitution and institute an “imperial presidency.”
McCarthy offers a wide-ranging case for impeachment. This “kitchen sink” approach provides a thoroughness that ensures the book encompasses virtually all conceivable arguments for removal of the chief executive, leaving the reader with a full sense of the legal and the possible. As the title of the book suggests, McCarthy focuses particularly on those areas where Obama has violated his oath of office, which requires that the president “take care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” He finds many actions that fall far short of this standard, and groups them into articles of proposed impeachment.
Obama has “serially usurped the power of Congress to write and amend the laws,” McCarthy states. This has been demonstrated in matters ranging from Obama’s policies on illegal immigration to his handling of cap-and-trade laws governing the coal industry. Regarding the former, Obama has “unilaterally and in violation of the Constitution conferred amnesty on several categories of illegal aliens,” and likewise improperly given federal benefits to them, “in defiance of Congress.” The Justice Department, with Obama’s implicit consent, has misused prosecutorial discretion “to dismiss thousands of pending cases against illegal immigrants and to prevent the arrest and prosecution of thousands of illegal immigrants.” Obama has punished states such as Arizona that have sought to curb illegal immigration by embarking on “extensive litigation” against them. These actions include lawsuits challenging the ability of states to combat voter fraud by ensuring proof of citizenship before voting.
Obama has “willfully defrauded the American people in the enactment and implementation of Obamacare.” McCarthy notes that this administration has simply and repeatedly ignored the text of the law and waived its terms to avoid fully enforcing it. This has allowed Obama to avoid the political fallout that would surely follow complete implementation of Obamacare. Obamacare also imposes regulations that violate the First Amendment, which ensures freedom of religion and conscience. Federal requirements embedded in Obamacare that stipulate religious believers and organizations must provide coverage for abortifacients and other forms of birth control infringe upon basic civil liberties.
Obama has “sicced the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies on his political opponents.” This pattern includes, most egregiously, targeting conservative groups in particular prior to the 2010 elections. Reflecting a similar agenda, the Justice Department has “enforced the laws in a politicized and racially discriminatory manner,” and sued the states to stymie their efforts to fight illegal immigration and election fraud. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was responsible for “Operation Fast and Furious,” which shipped large amounts of firearms to Mexican drug gangs, endangering the lives of Americans generally and the Border Patrol in particular. To cover up the scandal, Obama stonewalled, frivolously invoking executive privilege to block a proper congressional probe of the affair.
McCarthy’s case delves into international affairs, as well. He argues Obama “instigated a war, unauthorized by Congress and in the absence of any threat to the United States,” against Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi. McCarthy argues the war was “fraudulently conducted,” and allowed anti-American jihadists to obtain U.S. arms that have been used to destabilized the area. In like vein, the administration failed to protect Americans who became casualties of the Benghazi attack, and then sought to “defraud” American voters when Obama was up for reelection by dissembling about whether this was a terrorist attack. In Afghanistan, Obama laid down “unconscionable rules of engagement on American combat” by prohibiting U.S. soldiers from engaging the enemy if civilians might be harmed. His standing orders also frequently denied U.S. air cover to these troops, for the same improper reason.
Also in the international arena, McCarthy argues that Obama has “conspired with foreign elements to reduce the constitutional liberties of the American people.” He has done this by working with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in an attempt to prohibit speech that “casts Islam in a negative light.” The administration signed off on a United Nations treaty on arms regulations that would impose international strictures on weapons transfers “concocted by international bureaucrats – many of whom are anti-American and rabidly opposed to American firearms rights.”
This is a sweeping case. The most solid ground cited is Obama’s simple and brazen refusal to enforce federal law for personal or political gain. That is a dereliction of the chief executive’s core constitutional duties. Obama has singlehandedly rewritten his cardinal and eponymous legislation, Obamacare, by ignoring provisions and related timetables he does not like or whose implementation he wishes to delay. McCarthy is on much shakier footing when he argues that a president “defrauds” the public by breaking campaign promises or lying to them. This is contemptible behavior, to be sure, but not uncommon for presidents of all parties. The argument that Congress can impeach over a president’s rules of engagement in foreign wars is an extremely broad assertion of congressional power. Such a precedent could easily invite daily second-guessing of the commander-in-chief by the legislative branch in wartime.
McCarthy argues that merely impeaching the president to send a political message is not enough. “The objective must be removal, not just formal articles of impeachment – to purge the lawlessness” from the executive branch of government. And, indeed, that cuts to the heart of the matter: What good is impeachment, if the Senate is controlled by Obama’s party and refuses to vote to remove him? To deal with this impasse, McCarthy tries to build the public case for impeachment and removal. Yet, that task underscores the daunting reality of the situation. Ultimately, voters will have the final say on Obama’s behavior, in this year’s federal elections and when a new president is selected two years from now. For critics of Obama who believe he has violated his oath of office, such a reckoning cannot come soon enough.
Andrew Thomas is a graduate of the University of Missouri and Harvard Law School. Twice elected as Maricopa County Attorney, the district attorney for greater Phoenix, Arizona, Thomas served a county of four million residents and ran one of the largest prosecutor’s offices in the nation. He established a national reputation for fighting violent crime, identity theft, drug abuse and illegal immigration. He is author of four books, including Clarence Thomas: A Biography and The People v. Harvard Law: How America’s Oldest Law School Turned Its Back on Free Speech. Mr. Thomas is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.