The Obama Watch

An Imperial Presidency Revealed

It involves unleashing the NLRB on a job-killing rampage.

By and 9.7.11

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President Barack Obama's National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is on a job-killing rampage. It's claiming unprecedented powers far beyond what federal law allows. Taken with Obama's other agencies, these executive actions paint a picture of what has become an imperial presidency.

A federal appeal is certain once NLRB's shocking attack on Boeing Co. goes through the administrative process. In a free-market society, government bureaucrats cannot dictate to a private company where they can and cannot open factories or create jobs. Boeing -- whose general counsel was formerly one of the most brilliant federal judges in America, Michael Luttig -- should win this court battle.

NLRB's power grab is not limited to Boeing. It's also claiming authority over St. Xavier University, saying that the school doesn't qualify for the religious exemption to NLRB's authority because St. Xavier is not Catholic enough. NLRB even cites to a 1979 Supreme Court case as giving it this authority, when that case instead makes clear that this government agency would be running afoul of the First Amendment by presuming to rate the religiosity of bone fide church organizations.

Just recently NLRB came down with three other far-left decisions. One was repealing an earlier NLRB ruling, stripping workers of the right to promptly contest the results of a vote to form a union. Another was ruling that employers everywhere must post signs on forming a union, giving the appearance that unionizing was encouraged both by the government and even the employer. Even more disturbing, NLRB took this action on its own initiative, not in response to a group filing a petition with NLRB, which is how such ruling are supposed to originate.

The third and most damaging was ruling that even where unions do not exist, employees can form micro-unions in part of a company. This would make a mess of labor laws by creating countless possible entities with which business owners and management must constantly negotiate, seriously complicating efforts to have company policies that are stable, predictable, and profitable.

Nor will the president's handpicked appointees allow others to promote the free market. When Arizona and other states recently passed laws protecting workers' right to a secret ballot to decide whether to form unions, NLRB filed a lawsuit to undo the results of the democratic process. That lawsuit is ongoing today.

And NLRB isn't done. Even the Democrat-controlled Congress refused to pass President Obama's federal card-check legislation to abolish the secret ballot. Afterward Obama's appointees, such as hard-line labor activist Craig Becker, argued that NLRB could create this legislation through executive fiat without Congress. They may yet act on this shocking claim of lawmaking power.

Nor is this executive power grab confined to NLRB. The EPA is promulgating sweeping new regulations, imposing expensive mandates on everything from power plants to car mileage. The FCC has claimed power to control the Internet, in violation of a federal appeals court ruling. And Obamacare is proving a cornucopia of governmental controls, with HHS issuing reams of new regulations, further burdening employers and insurers.

And on immigration, President Obama has discovered a wondrous new power -- just don't enforce the law. If you don't like the statutes on the books, ignore your oath to ensure those laws are faithfully executed. Who needs the people's representatives in Congress to change the law, when you can just ignore it? Obama might even tout the efficiency of this lawless approach.

An imperial presidency is one in which the executive branch usurps Congress, which is the only branch with authority to make laws, and exercises power forbidden to it by the Constitution. President Obama is now claiming powers far beyond what any president has before, remaking America's economy even when Congress refuses to go along with him.

For the sake of restoring our constitutional order, each of these issues must be taken to court as soon as possible. And next year the American people must replace the current occupant of the White House with one who understands and adheres to his constitutional role of enforcing the laws as written, and unleashing the power of the private sector to create jobs and restore prosperity to our nation.

Messrs. Blackwell and Klukowski are the authors of Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservatism Can Save America.

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About the Author
Ken Blackwell, the former mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio is Vice Chairman of the Republican National Committee's Platform Committee. He also serves on the boards of the Club For Growth and the National Taxpayers Union.
About the Author

Ken Klukowski is a fellow with the American Civil Rights Union and is on faculty at Liberty University School of Law.