Liberal law professor Jonathan Turley warned a panel of lawmakers that they “must act” in support of a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for executive overreach or face “self-destruction” as a deliberative body.
Turley appeared as a witness for the House Rules Committee on Wednesday as that panel considered advancing a proposed lawsuit that would check the White House’s recent moves to cut out Congress on issues like health-care reform, immigration and drug policy.
The George Washington University law professor — who supports many of President Obama’s policies but opposes their unilateral implementation — expressed his support for the lawsuit and his belief that Congress, as a coequal branch of government, has the standing to sue to presidency.
“Our system is changing,” he warned, “and this body is the one branch that must act if we are to reverse those changes. We are seeing the emergence of a different model of government, a model long-ago rejected by the framers.”
Turley excoriated lawmakers who he believes won’t stand up for their own rights under the Constitution.
“A dominant presidency has occurred with very little congressional opposition,” he noted. “Indeed, when President Obama pledged to circumvent Congress, he received rapturous applause from the very body that he was proposing to make practically irrelevant. Now many members are contesting the right of this institution to even be heard in federal court.”
“This body is moving from self-loathing to self-destruction in a system that is in crisis,” the law professor charged. “The president’s pledge to effectively govern alone is alarming, and what is most alarming is his ability to fulfill that pledge.
When a president can govern alone, he can become a government unto himself,” he warned, “which is precisely the danger the framers sought to avoid. What we’re witnessing today is one of the greatest crises that members of this body will face.”
It has a patina of politics that is hard to penetrate,” Turley explained. “It did not start with President Obama — I was critical of his predecessor, and certainly this goes back long before George Bush. But it has reached a tipping point.”