What checks and balances?

By Dr. Harold A. Black



When I was in school, I was taught that the United States had a system of checks and balances where no one branch of the government could devolve into tyranny given the oversight of the other two branches. The three branches (for those who have been “educated” by our current system) are executive, legislative and judicial. Legislative is divided into the House of Representatives and the Senate which must pass identical bills that are signed by the president to become law. The president can veto the bills and it takes a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress to override. Congress can pass a bill and the president can sign it but the courts can rule the bill unconstitutional preventing it from becoming law. Yet even the courts can be overridden by the legislature by passing a constitutional amendment that is approved by two-thirds of the states.

In reality, we no longer have a system of checks and balances mainly because the legislators in the House and Senate have abdicated their responsibilities to the executive branch. The executive has usurped the power from Congress through the use of executive orders which do not require congressional approval. Presidents now typically ignore Congress when they feel that their wishes will not be put into law. Remember when faced with a Republican Congress, Obama famously said, “I’ve got a pen”? He signed 277 executive orders. Bill Clinton signed 361 and Donald Trump signed 220. Biden has signed 130 thus far. In 2023 he signed 24 and his administrative state added 90,402 pages to the Federal Register. When Biden first took office, there was a flurry of executive orders as he sought to eradicate the actions taken by Trump. There was the cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline, the stopping of the border wall, and the review of all Trump actions by department and agency heads. Biden then installed pro-DEI and LBGTQ policies and aggressively issued rules on climate change including banning internal combustible engines and liquid natural gas. Remember mask-wearing, mandatory COVID shots, the Paris Accord, Iran appeasement, immigration, student loan forgiveness and all the rest? But Trump does not get a pass. Remember the Muslim country ban, the shutting down of the economy (with the exception of big corporations) and the tariffs on our allies?

Congress cannot overturn an executive order but they can sue the government stating that the president has exceeded his authority. Please tell me if there are any suits filed by the Congress. I can’t find any. However, the states have sued the government with mixed results. Recently a federal judge in Texas found that a rule issued by the Federal Highway Administration was “unauthorized.” The state of Texas brought the suit. The Kansas Attorney General and 10 other Republican AGs have sued to stop Biden’s forgiveness of student loan debt. The private sector can sue as did the steel companies who sued when President Truman ordered the steel mills to be seized by the government during the Korean War. The Supreme Court ruled that Truman had overstepped his authority. I guess the automobile companies could sue the EPA mandate that will ultimately ban gas and diesel vehicles. But the auto industry actually favors the EPA rule because they can dramatically reduce the amount of labor needed to manufacture automobiles and trucks.

The Republicans in Congress have abdicated their responsibilities to govern and would rather fight amongst themselves rather than impede Biden’s actions. I believe earlier I called them “gutless.” Perhaps they are hoping that the Republican governors and attorney generals will sue the government so that they can continue embarrassing themselves. I have a suggestion: why not unite against Biden’s efforts to radically change our institutions, his attempts to divide the races via Critical Race Theory and DEI, to radically shrink the American economy with his industrial policy, to flood the country with illegals, to allow males to compete in women’s sports and emasculating our military? I guess the congressional Republicans are hoping that Trump is reelected so they won’t have to do anything useful. There is no doubt that Trump would spend his first few days in office overturning Biden’s executive orders and having his appointees roll back the rules of the EPA and the other federal agencies. It seems that the only hope of slowing down the runaway train of climate hysteria and federal wokeness will be Donald Trump. Let’s hope that he is not so caught up in payback and retribution that he will forget to govern.