Jordan Candler / February 17, 2016

Oh, You Mean That Article II?

Obama has a lot of chutzpah accusing GOP of contorting the Constitution.

One of Justice Antonin Scalia’s final rulings from the bench was to block implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by more than two dozen states. That irony notwithstanding, the Obama administration is pledging to trudge forward with the Paris climate treaty (more on that below) with or without the power plant emissions overhaul. Todd Stern, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, said yesterday, “It is entirely premature, really premature to assume the Clean Power Plan will be struck down but, even if it were, come what may, we are sticking to our plan to sign, to join [the UN accord]. We’re going to go ahead and sign the agreement this year.”

Stern’s remarks are all the more intriguing given the timing of the rhetorical fight over Scalia’s successor. Barack Obama is barking at Republicans for daring to block any Supreme Court nominee, which is not only their right but their prerogative. Meanwhile, in a new op-ed, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid warned, “We are entering uncharted waters in the history of the U.S. system of checks and balances, with potentially momentous consequences.”

Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution says that the president “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.” Wait — isn’t the Paris agreement a treaty? Well, yes. So why isn’t the Senate voting on it? Because Obama, just like Reid did as majority leader, changed the rules. Knowing the agreement would never pass a Republican-majority Senate, the administration scripted the agreement as not legally binding to avoid a congressional smackdown. Obama and Reid have a lot of chutzpah accusing Republicans of contorting the Constitution when circumventing its checks and balances is all they do.

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