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September 2, 2022

In Brief: Impeach and Convict Joe Biden

In this country, Congress makes the laws — and it must reassert this authority.

Democrats have severely debased impeachment with their pathetic efforts against Donald Trump. Yet it is exactly the political remedy the Founders gave us for executives who exceed their power and violate their constitutional oaths. Charles C.W. Cooke argues it’s time for that remedy against Joe Biden after his scheme on student loans.

If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll keep getting what we get. To avoid getting what we’re increasingly likely to get, Congress should impeach and convict President Biden.

Evidently, Biden feels as if there are no consequences to violating his oath of office. Last August, Biden “double, triple, quadruple checked” whether he was allowed to order another moratorium on evictions without Congress, and he concluded that he was not. Then he did it anyway — on the outrageous grounds that the time it would take to litigate might allow him “to keep this going for a month, at least — I hope longer.” Last Wednesday, Biden pulled the same trick with student loans. That the president does not have the statutory power to “cancel” college loans has long been so obvious that even Nancy Pelosi has managed to acknowledge it. “The president can’t do it, that’s not even a discussion,” Pelosi said last year. “People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness.” But, she confirmed: “He does not.” A week ago, Biden did it anyway — with the help of what might be the single most cynical and embarrassing legal memorandum in modern American history.

The trouble, as Cooke sees it, is that “presidents have started to get away with such behavior as a matter of routine.” He points to Barack Obama doing the same thing on immigration, saying more than 20 times that he had no authority to legalize the so-called “dreamers,” only to turn around and do it anyway. He also points to Donald Trump, who couldn’t get even a Republican Congress to give him sufficient money for a border wall, so eventually “Trump announced that he’d discovered some emergency laws on the books that, conveniently enough, allowed him to go it alone.”

In both cases, “nothing happened.”

There is not a single person in America who believes that what President Biden has done is legal — and that includes the people who penned the contrived legal justifications for him. His order is a ruse, a scheme, a hijacking — the product not of genuine ambiguity in the law, but of a preference for brute force. I know it. You know it. We all know it. President Biden knows it. This is why, in almost taunting tones, the president’s apologists have begun to remind the dissenters that, under the current standing rules, there may be no person in America who can sue. “Well,” they ask, gleefully, “Whatjagonnadoaboutit?”

I’ll tell you what I’d do about it: I’d impeach and convict the president, and end this trend for good. In this country, Congress makes the laws. In this country, Congress appropriates the funds. In this country, Congress sets immigration policy. In this country, as Barack Obama liked to remind us, the president is not a dictator or an emperor or a king. In this country, there is a path to getting things done, and that path is through Congress.

Cooke makes the case that Woodrow Wilson is largely to blame for the misconception of three “co-equal” branches of government.

They’re not. Congress is prime. Congress can pass laws without the president; the president cannot pass laws without Congress. Congress can remove the president; the president cannot remove Congress. Along with the states, Congress can amend the Constitution; the president cannot. Look at any part of the American order, and you’ll find that Congress has the power either to veto the other branches or to change the status quo via other means.

It’s time Congress stood up for itself, though as Cooke concedes, it’s unlikely to happen. But it’s stunning to see a native Englishman (though naturalized American) such as Cooke conclude:

And if we don’t — because it’s too hard or too divisive or harrowing — then we’ll deserve the system we’ll inevitably end up with, which, at this rate, seems destined to bear an uncanny resemblance to the system we once fought a revolution to pull apart.

Read the whole thing here.

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