Family Research Council

Obama Administration Undermines the Constitution

By Cathy Ruse Senior Fellow - Legal Studies


The oath of office for President of the United States reads "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." The record of President Obama seems to indicate he has added a last line that reads "unless it interferes with my agenda."

Health care legislation undermines individual constitutional rights: March 23, 2010 - The President's healthcare overhaul mandated that individuals purchase their own health insurance or risk facing fines. The individual mandate is an unconstitutional power-grab by the federal government. There is no constitutional authority for the federal government to force individuals to purchase services or products by threat of legal punishment. As of this publication's release, federal courts had struck down the individual mandate as unconstitutional;[1] the Supreme Court had not yet released its decision.

Bypassing Congress on Internet regulation: December 20, 2010 - When an Internet regulation bill failed to pass through Congress, President Obama's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it would regulate the Internet anyway. The FCC's new regulations controlled the way service providers may manage their network transmissions.[2]

Abnegation of duty to defend U.S. laws: February 23, 2011 - President Obama flouted his constitutional duty to defend duly-enacted U.S. laws by directing the Department of Justice not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)[3] and the Department of Defense to change its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy[4] regarding homosexuals in the military. In addition, President Obama's Administration has opted not to enforce certain laws regarding drug enforcement, internet gambling and immigration.[5]

Act of war without congressional sanction: March 2011 - President Obama ordered the U.S. military to attack Libya without the approval of Congress[6], which is required by the Constitution.[7]

Bypassing Congress on labor regulations: June 21, 2011 - When the union-backed "Employee Free Choice Act" failed in Congress, President Obama pushed the National Labor Relations Board to issue new pro-union regulations anyway, allowing "snap elections"[8] and forcing employers to give employee e-mails and phone numbers to union organizers. On May 14, 2012, a federal judge struck down the regulations governing union elections, saying the NLRB failed to follow proper voting procedures when it approved the rules last year.[9]

Unconstitutional recess appointments: January 4, 2012 - President Obama made four recess appointments, while Congress was in pro forma session,[10] thereby thwarting the Senate's constitutionally-mandated advice and consent role. In addition, the President defied Congressional opposition by appointing Richard Cordray as head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.[11]

HHS Contraception Mandate: January 20, 2012 - Health and Human Services' Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that pursuant to Obamacare, employers would be required to provide abortion drugs and birth control pills in their health insurance plans, against their religious beliefs, violate the First Amendment's protection of the free exercise of religion. Churches would not be covered by the mandate.[12] However, religious employers including universities and colleges, religious hospitals, and soup kitchens would fall under the requirement. Private employers religiously opposed to the provision of contraceptives would not be exempted either.[13] FRC testified before Congress regarding the troubling nature of these regulations.[14]

Thwarting Congress on environmental regulation: March 26, 2012 - "Cap and trade" auto emission legislation failed to pass through Congress. President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency began to auction greenhouse gas allowances, effectively taxing emissions and by this means regulating them anyway.[15]

Thwarting Congress on immigration policies: June 15, 2012 - When the Dream Act failed to pass Congress, the Obama Administration created a new administrative policy granting illegal aliens stays of refusal-a policy that amounts to amnesty.[16]

Cathy Cleaver Ruse is a Senior Fellow for Legal Studies at the Family Research Council.

[1] "FRC Praises Federal Judge for Striking Down Part of Obamacare," Family Research Council press release, September 12, 2011, accessed on June 21, 2012,

[2] Brian Stelter, "F.C.C. Faces Challenges to Net Rules," The New York Times, December 22, 2010, accessed on June 21, 2012,

[3] "Letter from the Attorney General to Congress on Litigation Involving the Defense of Marriage Act," The United States Department of Justice, February 23, 2011, accessed June 20, 2012,

[4] "Don't Ask, Don't Tell is Repealed," U.S. Department of Defense, accessed on June 21, 2012,

[5] Steve Friess, "Obama's policy strategy: Ignore laws," Politico, June 16, 2012, accessed on June 21, 2012,

[6] Charlie Savage and Mark Landler, "White House Defends Continuing U.S. Role in Libya Operation," The New York Times, June 15, 2011, accessed on June 21, 2012,

[7] Bruce Ackerman, "Obama's Unconstitutional War," Foreign Policy, March 24, 2011, accessed on June 21, 2012,

[8] National Labor Relations Board, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 120 (June 22, 2011), p. 36831.

[9] The Associated Press, "Judge Overturns Rules on Union Votes," The New York Times, May 14, 2012, accessed on June 21, 2012,

[10] Helene Cooper and Jennifer Steinhauer, "Bucking Senate, Obama Appoints Consumer Chief," The New York Times, January 4, 2012, accessed on June 21, 2012,

[11] "Obama Plays Recess Games with His New Team," Family Research Council, accessed on June 21, 2012,

[12] Robert Pear, "Obama Reaffirms Insurers Must Cover Contraception," New York Times, January 20, 2012, accessed June 20, 2012,

[13] "Six facts about HHS mandate," Catholic New World, February 12, 2012, accessed June 20, 2012

[14] Family Research Council, "U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Testimony of Jeanne Monahan, M.T.S.," accessed on June 21, 2012,

[15] Mark Drajem, "EPA Introduces First Greenhouse-Gas Limits for Power Plants," Bloomberg, March 27, 2012, accessed on June 21, 2012,

[16] Julia Preston and John H. Cushman Jr., "Obama to Permit Young Migrants to Remain in U.S.," The New York Times, June 15, 2012, accessed on June 21, 2012,