Trump’s unconstitutional executive orders are OK since ‘Obama did it too’

Executive orders coronavirus

Executive orders have become Trump’s preferred method of “governing” — Constitution be damned.

Last week, I wrote an article about how Trump’s abuse of executive power far exceeded that of his predecessor, Barack Hussein Obama. In his first three years in office, Donald “Art of the Deal” Trump’s inability to negotiate with Congress mixed with his “only I can do it” narcissism has given us more executive orders than we witnessed in Obama’s first three years.

Now entering the home stretch of his highly unlikely re-election in November, Trump has decided that he will “executive order” his way to the election, regardless of the constitutional implications; and for good measure, nothing will be off limits in his dictatorial quest to remain in office.

Last weekend, Trump followed through on his threat to unilaterally extend coronavirus relief via executive orders after Congress was unable to decide if it would spend $1 trillion we don’t have (Mitch McConnell’s plan) or $3 trillion we don’t have (Nancy Pelosi’s plan).

Trump’s four coronavirus executive orders provide $400/week in supplemental unemployment payments — he requires the states to cough up $100 of that amount — student loan relief, and protections against evictions for renters and foreclosures for home owners.

With the exception of Sen. Ben Sasse, who suddenly “grew a pair” and reminded Trump that he’s not a king; most Republicans supported Trump’s coronavirus executive orders, including Mitch “Grim Reaper for socialism” McConnell. In a statement, McConnell said, “I am glad that President Trump is proving that while Democrats use laid-off workers as political pawns, Republicans will actually look out for them.”

The faux-conservative media is also shouting the praises of Trump’s abuse of executive power, including the pro-Trump echo chamber at BlazeTV. Immediately after Trump put his signature on his executive orders, Mark Levin tweeted out an endorsement you know he wouldn’t have given if Obama had been the one signing them.

“The Great One” claimed Trump had no choice but to issue his monarchial decree, and he gave the New York liberal “kudos” for being “the only person in Washington who actually wants to get things done.”

The hypocrisy of sycophants and cultists aside, they are ignoring the fact that these coronavirus executive orders are unconstitutional, as Judge Andrew Napolitano explains in an opinion piece for

The Constitution champions the well-accepted structures of government known as the separation of powers and federalism.

Under the separation of powers, Congress writes the laws, the president enforces them, and the judiciary decides what the laws mean and if they are constitutional.

Since federal monies can only be spent by legislation, and since only Congress writes federal laws, only it can enact legislation that spends federal monies.

I use the phrase “federal monies” rather than “federal funds” or “taxpayer dollars” because the federal government is broke. It owes $26.5 trillion to its creditors. So, whatever monies Congress gives away, it must first borrow.

But whether Congress is giving away taxpayer dollars, buying battleships or borrowing money, it must do so by legislation. We know this because the separation of powers prohibits the president or the courts from doing Congress’ job.

We also know this because the Constitution expressly states in Article I, section 9, that no money shall be spent except when appropriated by law.

Stated differently, the Treasury cannot legally borrow or spend a nickel unless it has been expressly authorized to do so by law — meaning by legislation enacted by Congress. This is neither a novel nor a political observation. It is Constitutional Law 101.

Thus, when the president — no matter his goals — attempts to exercise power that the Constitution has given exclusively to Congress, it is the duty of the courts to stop him.

Judge Nap further addressed the part of Trump’s executive orders requiring states to finance a portion of the unemployment payments.

It is similarly the duty of the courts to enjoin the president from enforcing any law or taking any action that violates the principle of federalism. This principle mandates state sovereignty and independence in areas of governance reserved to the states.

Federalism is mandated as well by the Guarantee Clause of the Constitution.

According to the Supreme Court, that clause means that state officials decide how to employ state assets and spend state funds. Stated differently, neither the president nor Congress can tell the states that they must spend $100 a week on unemployed people in their states.

Inasmuch as Trump’s executive order has the state contribution of $100 a week per person as a trigger for individuals to receive the federally borrowed $300 a week, the executive order is not only doubly unconstitutional, it is functionless as an instrument of aid.

Rather, it is an instrument of politics only.

In the “there’s always a tweet” category, Trump once accused Obama of abusing executive orders to subvert the Constitution and hide his inability to negotiate with Congress.

Trump has abused executive orders to “subvert the Constitution … for his own benefit” because he’s been “unable to negotiate with Congress.” But in the Age of Trump, that’s OK because “Obama did it too.”


David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.

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