Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a propagandistically named “net neutrality” plan by a party-line vote of three to two. The plan, which is over three hundred pages long, was not publicly available before the vote. What little we know is that it would treat the internet like a public utility, thus making it subject to government regulation. The government only wants to keep it “free,” or so it claims. Those of us who choose to live in reality know that the government doesn’t assert its authority to regulate something so that it can do nothing with that power.
But surely a momentous decision like this one can’t be made within the executive branch, behind closed doors, by a group of unelected bureaucrats? And surely they can’t keep the plan secret until it passes?
Constitutionally speaking, they can’t. According to Article I of the Constitution, the power to create law is vested in the legislative branch. Legislators are not authorized to abdicate their responsibilities to a board, much less to the executive branch, which is where the FCC resides. A decision this important requires a full hearing in the halls of Congress with a vote by our elected representatives.
But that’s soooooo twentieth century. If the events of recent months are any indicator, the United States has officially transcended the messy process of legislating. We simply don’t decide contentious issues in Congress anymore. That’s what President Obama and his proxies are for.
The trend didn’t begin in recent months, or even with the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama, but it has nonetheless picked up speed like a runaway train since the Republican landslide of 2014. The president, if you can still call him that, is now facing some tepid opposition in Congress, which apparently entitles him to bypass that body entirely. It’s their fault for opposing his agenda. If they weren’t so “obstructionist” or “dysfunctional,” they’d give the president whatever he wants, no questions asked. The same principle does not apply to all presidents, of course, only this one.
To name just two examples of momentous decisions being made outside the legislative process, there is the administration’s recent proposal to ban standard M855 “green tip” ammunition and the executive order that essentially nullifies our borders.
Let’s begin with the ammunition. Anyone who has served in the military since the 1960s will remember loading magazines with M855 rounds, which were probably called 5.56 NATO ammunition. This same ammunition is used in the civilian equivalent of an M-16, sometimes referred to as an AR-15. Since last week, the ATF has been contemplating a plan to designate the M855 as an armor-piercing round which would make it illegal under the Gun Control Act of 1968.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended the proposed ban, saying, “This seems to be an area where everyone should agree that if there are armor-piercing bullets that fit into easily concealed weapons, that puts our law enforcement at considerably more risk.”
I don’t buy for a moment that this administration is worried about cops being gunned down. When a criminal attempted to murder Officer Darren Wilson with his own gun last summer in Ferguson, Missouri, the administration sided with the criminal. It has clearly implied that the officer who survived the attempted murder was motivated by racism. Non-racist cops apparently just die.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the M855 does not meet the definition of an armor piercing round under the two criteria stipulated by federal law. The first criterion is that it must be capable of being fired from a handgun, which the M855 is, even if its primary purpose is for rifles. The second is that it must be “constructed entirely . . . from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium.” Here is where the M855 fails the test—it consists of lead with a steal tip. Ergo, not “armor-piercing.”
No matter. The ATF will likely ban it anyway because #copslivesmatter…except when cops’ lives are actually in danger, then the administration files a federal civil rights lawsuit against the police department.
Barack Obama desperately wants to ban AR-15’s but has thus far failed to do so. Banning the bullet that the gun uses is the next best thing. His administration found a law already on the books and applied it to a type of ammunition that it was never intended to cover. Et voila! The bullet is banned. Changing laws, which is a lot of hard work, is not necessary. It’s so much easier to just change the meaning of words and even the periodic table of elements.
Then there’s the issue of President Obama’s executive amnesty for illegal aliens, which is clearly illegal, and he knows it. He even said so on Univision, warning Hispanic voters that there’s a process to changing laws and the process matters. “With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case…. There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.” That was before he decided that the power was in fact his to wield. Kind of makes you wonder what took him so long to use it?
The Obama Administration’s argument, as far as I can tell, is that it’s merely exercising a little prosecutorial “discretion.” Such a thing does exist but it must be exercised with extreme caution lest justice devolve into the arbitrary rule of men, which I’m beginning to suspect is this president’s goal.
Actually changing the law would require congressional action but, the administration posits, since the administration is not changing the law, there’s no need. Unfortunately, President Obama said something quite different when a group of pro-illegal immigration hecklers interrupted him in Chicago. “You’re absolutely right that there have been significant numbers of deportations… But what you are not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.
Change the law? Can presidents just do that? Apparently no one ever taught this supposed constitutional scholar that the president doesn’t get to do whatever he wants just because he thinks he has right on his side. But alas, the lesson he’s learned in Washington is quite the opposite. He’s seen that he can change immigration laws and ban a popular type of ammunition with the snap of his fingers, so what’s to stop him from regulating the internet? No one has yet stopped him. I’ve resigned myself to believe that no one ever will.