National Emergency?

November 8, 1999

Last week I talked about the executive orders being signed by President Clinton. I pointed out that it is possible that the president is making more laws by signing executive orders than by signing bills passed by Congress. The president has already posted more than 300 formal executive orders dealing with a wide array of issues.

It turns out that my initial concern about executive orders is perhaps only the tip of the iceberg. Many of these executive orders are not in force, but could be put in force during a national emergency.

Actually it turns out that the U.S. is technically already in a state of national emergency. Apparently there are 13 national emergencies in effect dating from a November 14, 1979 emergency declared by President Carter during the Iran hostage crisis.

One congressional committee identified 500 existing laws that take effect when a president declares an emergency by executive order. They include vast powers to seize property, commodities, fuel and minerals. They also include the power to organize and control the means of production, including compulsory job assignments for civilians. And they include power to assign military forces abroad and institute martial law.

Congressman Ron Paul has submitted "the Separation of Powers Restoration Act." The bill would limit the scope of executive orders a president can issue to only directing his staff and executive branch employees in carrying out authorized activities. The bill would also repeal all "national emergencies" currently on the books from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The president's current string of executive orders attempts to legislate in ways the Constitution never permitted. And this country is not under a national emergency. Congress needs to act to rectify these issues immediately.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.