President Barack Obama’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is on a job-killing rampage. It’s claiming unprecedented powers far beyond what federal law allows. In the context of Obama’s other agencies’ decisions, these executive actions paint a picture of what has become an imperial presidency.
A federal appeal is certain once the NLRB’s shocking attack on Boeing goes through the administrative process. In a free-market society, government bureaucrats cannot dictate to a private company where it can and cannot open factories or create jobs. Boeing — whose general counsel was formerly one of the most brilliant federal judges in America, Michael Luttig — should win this court battle.
The NLRB’s power grab is not limited to Boeing. It’s also claiming jurisdiction over St. Xavier University, saying that the school doesn’t qualify for the religious exemption to NLRB’s authority because St. Xavier is not Catholic enough. NLRB cites a 1979 Supreme Court case as giving it this authority, when that case instead makes clear that this government agency would be running afoul of the First Amendment by presuming to rate the religiosity of bona fide church organizations.
In recent months, the NLRB has come down with three other far-left decisions. The first repealed an earlier NLRB ruling, stripping workers of the right to promptly contest the results of a vote to form a union.
The second requires that employers post signs on forming unions, giving the appearance that unionizing is encouraged by both the government and employers.
Most damaging of all is a ruling that even where unions do not exist, employees can form micro-unions in part of a company. This will make a mess of labor laws by creating countless possible entities with which business owners and management must constantly negotiate, seriously complicating efforts to have company policies that are stable, predictable and profitable.
Nor will the president’s handpicked appointees allow others to promote the free market. When Arizona and other states recently passed laws protecting workers’ right to a secret ballot in union elections, the NLRB filed a lawsuit to undo the results of the democratic process. That lawsuit continues today.
And the NLRB isn’t done. Even the Democrat-controlled Congress refused to pass President Obama’s federal card-check legislation to abolish the secret ballot. Afterward, Obama’s appointees, such as hard-line labor activist Craig Becker, argued that the NLRB could create this legislation through executive fiat without Congress’s approval. The NLRB may yet act on this shocking claim of lawmaking power.
Nor is this executive power grab confined to the NLRB. The Environmental Protection Agency is promulgating sweeping new regulations that would impose expensive mandates on everything from power plants to car mileage. The Federal Communications Commission has claimed power to control the Internet, in violation of a federal appeals court ruling. And Obamacare is proving a cornucopia of governmental controls, with the Department of Health and Human Services issuing reams of new regulations, further burdening employers and insurers.
And on immigration, President Obama has discovered a wondrous new power — just don’t enforce the law. If you don’t like the statutes on the books, ignore your oath to ensure those laws are faithfully executed. Who needs the people’s representatives in Congress to change the law when you can just ignore it? Obama might even tout the efficiency of this lawless approach.
An imperial presidency is one in which the executive branch usurps the role of Congress, which is the only branch with authority to make laws, and asserts power not granted to it by the Constitution. President Obama is now claiming powers far beyond what any president has before, remaking America’s economy even when Congress refuses to go along with him.
For the sake of restoring our constitutional order, each of these issues must be taken to court as soon as possible. And next year the American people must replace the current occupant of the White House with one who understands and adheres to his constitutional role of enforcing the laws as written and unleashing the power of the private sector to create jobs and restore prosperity to our nation.
Ken Blackwell is chairman of Save Our Secret Ballot and Ken Klukowski is a fellow with the American Civil Rights Union. They are the authors of Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservatism Can Save America.