Executive Orders

November 2, 1999

It may surprise you to hear this, but President Clinton seems to be 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. Opponents say that these orders push the limits of presidential power.

When asked about the president's self-assumed law-making ability, Clinton advisor Paul Begala said, "Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kind of cool." Well, he may think it is kind of cool to have a president act more like a king, but others are not so sanguine. House Majority Leader Dick Armey said, "With the stroke of a pen, he may have done irreparable harm to individual rights and liberties." He went on to add, "President Clinton seems bent on using his powers until someone says stop. President Clinton is running roughshod over our Constitution."

Now, to be fair, we must acknowledge that other presidents have used executive orders in the past to close banks during the Depression, intern Japanese-Americans during World War II, and ban assassination of foreign leaders. But this president has used them more frequently and at a time when the nation is not facing any crisis. Effectively, he is using executive orders to bypass Congress and the Constitution.

Congress is now considering legislation introduced by Congressman Ron Paul that would restrict the power of presidents to legislate by executive order. The bill is called "the Separation of Powers Restoration Act" and it would do just that: restore the separation of powers. The framers wisely separated the legislative powers from the executive powers. President Clinton's current string of executive orders attempts to legislate in ways the Constitution never permitted. The president should not legislate with the stroke of a pen.

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