In the classic "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," the author wrote of the evolution of Rome from its height as a great republic - whose citizens elected the Senate to enact laws, which were then carried out by a consul appointed by the Senate - until Rome's downfall as an imperial dictatorship.
Slowly, the "executive," i.e. the consul, obtained more and more control, until Julius Caesar named himself dictator of the Roman Empire. The Roman Senate then was reduced to a position of weakness.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution, afraid of usurpation by one branch of government or the other, built in a series of checks and balances between the Congress, the president and the Supreme Court. James Madison anticipated the presidency would be the weakest of the three branches.
In our country today, there is an almost unlimited growth of the power of the president, to the detriment of the other branches of government. For example:
1. While the law states that certain presidential appointments cannot be made without the consent of the Senate, except for a short time when the Senate is not in session, our president made numerous appointments, declaring the Senate in "recess," when, in fact, the Senate was not. "Usurpation."
2. Without the approval of the Senate, the president named numerous "czars" to operate government departments, to bypass the right of the Senate to approve. "Usurpation."
3. The president's handpicked Environmental Protection Agency Board is effectively destroying the coal industry in our country, without a vote of Congress. (One of the largest companies, Patriot Coal, filed for bankruptcy July 9.) "Usurpation."
4. The president's handpicked labor board voted to hold Boeing Manufacturing in contempt for building a new plant in South Carolina, a "right to work" state. "Usurpation."
5. A federal judge in Louisiana ordered the president's minion to begin processing oil drilling permits for the Gulf of Mexico. The president neither obeyed the court order nor appealed it. He simply ignored it. "Usurpation."
As in Rome, the powers of our government are being transferred from our elected Congress and courts to an imperial presidency. As the writers of our Constitution were leaving at the close of the Constitutional Convention, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, "What kind of government have you given us?"
He replied, "A republic, madam, if you can keep it."
Very truly yours,
Michael B. Lange,