Rule of Law Suits Congress
The House votes today on a resolution that authorizes the House of Representatives to sue the President for his repeated disregard of the Rule of Law and the separation of powers. The outstanding question remains whether courts will grant the House standing or not.
Under the Constitution, it's the duty of Congress as the legislative branch to make the laws and the Executive Branch to see that they are faithfully executed. Under Obama, however, these roles have become increasingly blurred and, unsurprisingly, always at Congress' expense. Laws passed by the Legislative Branch have been delayed, waived, selectively enforced and, in some cases, created out of whole cloth to suit the President's needs without input from Congress.
There have been so many instances of Presidential overreach that it became the job of the Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) legal advisors to find the most egregious abuse of power to present to the courts. For example, the President has unilaterally chosen to let Members of Congress and their staffs keep their massive federal subsidies even after being dumped onto ObamaCare exchanges. He's allowed these plans, subsidize with taxpayer dollars, to include elective abortion in clear violation of the law. He's granted waivers for welfare's work requirements, allowed the IRS to target conservative groups and has extended marriage benefits to same-sex couples in states that only recognize natural marriage.
But in the end, the Speaker decided to focus on the delay of the unpopular employer mandate, one of the central planks of ObamaCare that the President has unilaterally delayed twice. These delays flout the express language of the law, which states that employers with over 50 employees must comply with the ObamaCare mandates by December 31, 2013 or face significant penalties. Obama has kicked the employer mandate into 2015, distorting voter perception of the true workability of the law and buffering its supporters against criticism in an election year.
The Constitution requires the President to faithfully execute the laws, not just the ones he likes. This lawsuit is a first step in restoring the separation of powers and holding the President accountable to the law. Testifying in support of the resolution, Obama voter and George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley cautioned, "It is tempting to embrace rule by a single person who offers to govern alone to get things done. However, this is the very Siren's call that our Founders warned us to resist. We remain a nation of laws and we have a court system designed to resolve such controversies. That is precisely where this authorization would take us and it is where these questions should be answered."
Adopting Faith-Based Hope
For thousands of American families, the work of faith-based child welfare service providers has been central to their very formation as families. Since our country's founding, religious entities have taken the lead in finding homes for our nation's orphans. To ensure that faith-informed adoption and foster care agencies can continue that vital work, today Congressman Mike Kelly (R) of Pennsylvania and Senator Mike Enzi (R) of Wyoming introduced the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act.
This important legislation would prohibit states receiving federal funds from discriminating against faith-based child welfare service providers in licensing, contracting, and funding -- addressing a troubling trend of discriminatory actions by state and local governments in Illinois, Massachusetts, California, and D.C. In the state of Illinois alone, religious adoption and foster care providers were forced to stop serving over 2,000 children when the state refused to allow agencies to continue operating based on their belief that kids deserve both a mom and a dad. Congressman Kelly's and Enzi's legislation would correct such discrimination by prohibiting actions targeting faith-based providers and penalizing states receiving federal funding for child welfare services if they unfairly squeeze out faith-based groups.
It's a common-sense bill that excludes no one and seeks to maximize the number of providers serving our nation's most vulnerable children. Contact your Member of Congress and Senators and urge them to co-sponsor this legislation.
Taxman vs. the Preacher
Last week the IRS told the Freedom From Religion Foundation that it will begin monitoring churches for violating its policy on pulpit speech. Will they send monitors into churches or perhaps listen to sermons posted online? We don't know yet. The IRS refuses to disclose the details on how it may target churches but the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is trying to find out. ADF has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to learn the details of the IRS's agreement with the atheist group. ADF's Christian Holcomb told the media, "Secrecy breeds mistrust, and the IRS should know this in light of its recent scandals involving the investigation of conservative groups...what it intends to do to churches must be brought into the light of day."
If the IRS follows through on targeting churches, ADF may finally have the test case that it has been seeking to challenge a 1954 IRS regulation that has been unconstitutionally used to muzzle what churches can and can't say about elections. For years, the IRS code was used to create a culture of intimidation until FRC and ADF began working together to restore the free speech rights of our nation's clergy. Since 2008, thousands of pastors have participated in "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" - a day in which they boldly preach God's Word as it applies to public policy and politics. The American people are clearly growing weary of the idea that the IRS should be given special speech-police powers over any American, especially when it comes to what's said in the pulpit. Bottom line as ADF argues: the church and its pastor decide what is said in church, not the IRS.
IRS emails released earlier today provide a little more insight into what the IRS thinks of conservatives. Lois Lerner, a former IRS official who has been under investigation in the IRS targeting scandal, sent emails using expletives to describe conservatives and referred to tea party groups as "crazies." The IRS continues to arrogantly use your tax dollars to engage in targeting and even name-calling. Now they tell us churches are on their target list.
These appalling abuses point to a need for urgent Congressional intervention. But more importantly they underscore the need for a spiritual renewal in our country. The solution begins in the pulpits of America. Pastor Jack Hibbs, Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills and a board member of FRC's National Pastors Council, is one of many pastors leading the way to provide that solution. This morning he did a great job in his interview on Fox and Friends responding to the IRS's church monitoring plan. Please watch the interview below and encourage your pastor to participate in this year' Pulpit Freedom Sunday which will be held on Oct. 5. Go to www.pulpitfreedomsunday.org for more information.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.