Our Constitution Should Not be Ignored

By Senator Mike Johanns

I recently joined 41 of my colleagues in supporting a lawsuit to reign in President Obama’s overreach and I appreciate the opportunity to explain why I think it is so important.

Earlier this year, President Obama deliberately sidestepped constitutional rules designed to limit the power of the Executive branch when he appointed three members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) without seeking confirmation from the Senate.

The Constitution gives the Senate the authority to review and approve presidential appointees. It gives the President the power to make appointments without such approval only when the Senate is out of session.  The problem is that when these appointments took place, the Senate was in session.  Because the President violated the Constitution when selecting these board members, the NLRB has no legitimate authority to render decisions and all of its actions are rightfully subject to legal challenges.

This may seem like a technicality, but it is in fact a violation of principles enshrined in our founding documents by the President, and it has real-world implications. Noel Canning, a family-owned soft drink bottler, recently lost an NLRB appeal regarding a dispute over a labor agreement.  According to the NLRB, the company must now enter into a collective bargaining agreement with a labor union.

The company filed a lawsuit against the NLRB, asserting that, because members of the board were unconstitutionally appointed, it had no authority act.  I recently joined 41 of my colleagues in filing an amicus brief in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s actions.  The case is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

No small business wants to be bossed around by bureaucrats. This ruling by the NLRB could stand alone as another example of this Administration’s fixation with telling small businesses what to do.  But what makes this situation particularly disturbing is the unconstitutional manner in which the bureaucrats were appointed, showing blatant disregard for the rules that our nation’s leaders are obligated to abide by.

The contents of the Constitution are not mere suggestions.  They are the recipe for a great America. I went through the process of congressional approval when I was appointed Secretary of Agriculture. Having been on both sides, I have a great appreciation for the Senate’s role in the confirmation process.  These rules are intended to limit the power of any one branch of government and ensure the voice of the people—through their elected representatives—is heard.

Our Founding Fathers created an ingenious system of checks and balances among the three branches of the federal government to prevent overreach. The President ignored these principles when he circumvented the authority of the Senate. It is now up to the third branch of government—the courts—to employ its checks and balances, and ensure the strength of our nation remains with the people and the principles that founded America.

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