There are good reasons the writers of the Constitution gave us a system of checks and balances between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

One was to keep us free of an imperial presidency.

In issuing executive orders, the president often goes against the wishes of a majority of the Congress, the elected representatives of the people.

An increasing number of people today, especially those in the conservative camp, feel that President Obama has been crossing the constitutional line by using his executive powers to bypass congress in order to advance his domestic agenda. He has issued 135 Executive Orders in 40 months.

Two weeks ago, a panel of experts told the House Judiciary Committee how this president has a habit of bypassing or ignoring constitutional limitations on his power. Some of those experts talked about how the administration has been treading on dangerous grounds.

"The administration has repeatedly put its partisan agenda above the rule of law," committee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith said. "In doing so, it has eroded the constitutional and legal foundation that have kept America prosperous and free for over 200 years."

Smith gave some examples of how Obama has overstepped his bounds, including his decision to stop enforcing parts of U.S. immigration law. For one, he ordered that young illegal immigrants would not be deported as long as they had been in the country long enough and had no criminal record.

There is also the No Child Left Behind Act. In granting 26 states waivers from the requirements of the act over the past five months, Obama has brought about the repeal of President Bush's education law for half of the country, replacing it with his own standards through the Department of Education.

Instead of enforcing laws, Smith said this president has been rewriting them.

"Just because you don't like a law, doesn't mean you can ignore it," Smith said. "Many people have gone to jail for doing just that."

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a noted constitutional scholar, told the committee that the president made recess appointments while the Senate was not actually out, a historic first but also another example of his abuse of power.

Also giving testimony was Lori Windham, senior counsel to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who showed how the Obama administration's decision to require religious organizations to supply contraceptives and abortifacients to their employees or pay a fine was part of a pattern that is of deep concern.

"I was not alone in my shock when the Obama Administration's lawyers opposed our position (in a recent Supreme Court case) by arguing that churches are no different than bowling clubs, and that our First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom does not protect religious organizations," she said.

The court ruled unanimously in favor of religious groups.

"If the government can trample First Amendment freedoms, then none of our fundamental rights are secure," Windham said.

Sen. Lee said even those who support Obama should understand the need for accountability and challenges to his actions when he oversteps his constitutional bounds.

In a recent action, Obama issued a new executive order that seeks to "harmonize" U.S. economic regulations with the rest of the world.

What exactly does that mean?

It's those broad terms that scare American citizens, such as in that pre-election speech Obama gave in 2008, when he told us that "we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com [1]