Over the past century, beginning in earnest with the Woodrow Wilson administration, the executive branch has engorged in size at the general expense of the legislative branch that James Madison, in The Federalist No. 51, famously assured us would “necessarily predominate” in our “republican” form of government. Aided and abetted by a complicit Congress, which has generally been all too eager to delegate hitherto unprecedented unilateral authority to the executive, the president’s ability to seemingly legislate by administrative fiat has done much to undermine the original tripartite nature of our delicately prescribed constitutional order.
This pattern holds true for both major political parties. On a personal note, I have made public my sympathy to the argument, advanced by John Eastman of the Claremont Institute and John Yoo of Berkeley Law and the American Enterprise Institute (both former U.S. Supreme Court law clerks for originalist stalwart Justice Clarence Thomas) that President Donald Trump acted well within his statutorily delegated authority in his recent unilateral declaration of a national emergency at our beleaguered southern border. But, as I noted on the Steve Deace Show in late January, a judgment as to the political prudence of making such a unilateral executive branch move was a different calculation entirely. The Obama Administration, especially in the realm of immigration and amnesty, had engaged in previously unforeseen unilateralism. With Trump engaging in a symbolically meaningful assertion of executive authority — however properly delegated from Congress it may or may not have been — the one-way ratchet only seemed to exacerbate.
Now, it seems, the chickens are already coming home to roost a bit for conservatives. Specifically, U.S. Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris (D-CA) has now vowed to initiate unilateral action on gun control within her first 100 days as president, if Congress does not act according to her whims.
The Washington Examiner reports:
During a CNN town hall on Monday, Harris said “in our America” students should not have to go through drills that prepare them to encounter a shooter at school.
“Conversations take place every night … between students and their parents, ‘Why do these things have to happen? Why do we have to have a drill like that?’ To which, of course, the response is because there are people in Washington, D.C., supposed leaders, who have fail to have the courage to reject a false choice, which suggests you’re either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away,” Harris said.
The former prosecutor added lawmakers had “failed to have the courage” to pass laws like universal background checks and an “assault weapons ban.”
“Upon being elected, I will give Congress 100 days to get their act together and have the courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws, and if they fail to do it, then I will take executive action,” she said, adding that anyone who sells more than five guns a year will be required to do a background check on their customers.
Harris is no stranger to gun control demagoguery, having previously made clear her disdain for semiautomatic weapons — and especially for the undefinable cosmetic sub-group of semiautomatic weapons frequently described as “assault weapons.”