Don Knotts, who played the bumbling deputy Barney Fife on those classic Andy Griffith sitcoms in the 1960s, had a memorable line whenever he felt someone was breaking the law or overstepping boundaries.

"Time to nip it ... nip it in the bud," Deputy Fife would preach. In many instances, the same lesson the egocentric Barney railed against would come back to bite him before a show ended.

The Deputy Fife episodes were good lessons in humility, teaching us how to swallow our pride.

Back in 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama criticized President George W. Bush's use of executive privilege regarding the investigations over the firing of United States Attorneys and the Valerie Plame leak scandal.

"There's been a tendency, on the part of this administration, to try to hide behind executive privilege every time there's something a little shaky that's taking place," Sen. Obama told interviewer Larry King. "I think the administration would be best served by coming clean on this."

Fast forward six years and we have the same Barack Obama swallowing his own words as U.S. president. Last Friday, a three-judge federal appeals court in the District of Columbia took the president to the woodshed by voiding three of Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.

The U.S. Constitution is clear that a nominee must be vetted and approved by the Senate. In order to circumvent Congress to make his appointments to the NRB, Obama made up his own definition of recess.

The D.C. court said not so fast.

Under Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the court said the president could only fill vacancies with the recess appointment procedure if the openings arise when the Senate is in an official recess, which is defined as the break between sessions of Congress. GOP lawmakers argue that the Senate technically had stayed in session because it was gaveled in and out every few days for so-called "pro forma" sessions.

If the decision is upheld by the Supreme Court, all of the acts of the unconstitutionally appointed NLRB will be struck down.

Conservative lawmakers and the millions of Americans who favor limited government are encouraged by last week's court decision. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said the ruling "soundly rejected the Obama administration's flimsy interpretation of the law, and will go a long way toward restoring the constitutional separation of powers."

The way the president used executive powers to circumvent Congress should be of concern to every American. This country was founded with a system of checks and balances to prevent one branch of government from having more power than the other. Obama crossed that line and was chopped down by a higher authority - the U.S. Constitution.

Hopefully, this president, who taught constitutional law, learned his Barney Fife ego-deflating lesson when he tried to sidestep the very document he swore on two Bibles to uphold at his second inauguration only nine days ago.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com [1]