On the Side | Brad Hicks


Lost in the shuffle of the Obama administration’s decision to order schools to comply with new gender rules regarding bathroom use is a very important question.

Does the executive branch really have the power to issue such an order, and does the executive branch really have the power to essentially blackmail schools into compliance by threatening to withhold federal funds?

The answer depends upon what attorneys you ask. Some constitutionalists say previous actions set precedents giving the administration this power. Other constitutionalists argue there’s nothing in the nation’s charter that allows something such as this. President Obama is a student of constitutional law, and obviously he feels the office has the power. Of course, no recent president has ever declared he didn’t have the power to do something – all of them figure they were elected, so they have the right.

I’m a pretty simple guy. 

Congress creates laws.

The executive branch executes the laws.

The judicial branch reviews the laws.

Of course, it’s not that simple. Time erodes all things, exposing gaps that need to be patched or filled. In most cases, more power has been given to the executive branch to write language that Congress didn’t address when it created the law. For example, the Affordable Care Act is a law passed by Congress, but there are aspects of it which were written after its passage by the Department of Health and Human Services, to address gaps. It happens all the time.

And that’s why the next point is so important.

More than creating laws, the most critical action Congress performs is oversight of the executive and judicial branches. 

Last week, Sen. Charles Grassley issued a pretty straightforward press release, which explained how a committee he leads was able to get forgiven $16.9 million for 5,070 low-income patients who were being sued by a Missouri hospital, which under federal regulations isn’t allowed to do so. The case is interesting, but the point Sen. Grassley made that I found most compelling was thus:

“Now a lesson to all 535 members of Congress that I want to point out.  This is why oversight is so important.  That is why I take my oversight responsibilities as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee so seriously.  Results matter.”

This is no endorsement of Sen. Grassley. This is an endorsement of Congress doings its job of oversight. Congress should perpetually look into the actions of the departments of state, education, human services, defense, etc. At the most basic level, we elect representatives and senators to uphold the law, and to make adjustments if necessary. That means holding hearings. That means folks such as Donald Rumsfeld, Oliver North, Kathleen Sebelius, Hillary Clinton, Henry Kissinger, et al, should have accepted inquiries by elected representatives doing their jobs. People don’t like a colonoscopy when it comes to the work they do, and some people don’t like doing them. But it’s important that it is done to protect our representative republic, even when it comes to who’s deciding who’s going to bathroom where.

Brad Hicks is the Editor/Publisher of the Red Oak Express. He can be contacted at publisher@redoakexpress.com

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