(CNSNews.com) — In his book “The Audacity of Hope,” President Barack Obama praised the Constitution and the federalism it enshrines, including the “three coequal” branches of government and checks on power that “prevent tyranny by either the few or the many."
“The outlines of Madison’s constitutional architecture are so familiar that even schoolchildren can recite them: not only rule of law and representative government, not just a bill of rights, but also the separation of the national government into three coequal branches, a bicameral Congress, and a concept of federalism that preserved authority in state governments, all of it designed to diffuse power, check factions, balance interests, and prevent tyranny by either the few or the many,” Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, said in the 2006 book.
But on Tuesday, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, held a hearing entitled “The President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Law.”
He questioned witness Jonathan Turley, professor at George Washington University Law School, about whether or not Obama has violated the Constitution by using executive authority to amend, delay, or ignore laws that have been passed by Congress.
"Professor Turley, the Constitution, the system of separated powers is not simply about stopping one branch of government from usurping another,” Goodlatte said. "It's about protecting the liberty of Americans from the dangers of concentrated government power.
"How does the president's unilateral modification of an act of Congress affect both the balance of power between the political branches and the liberty interests of the American people?” Goodlatte asked.
"The danger is quite severe,” Goodlatte said. "The problem with what the president is doing is that he's not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system.
"He's becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid,” Turley said. "That is the concentration of power in every single branch.”
Turley said presidential power has been expanded under George W. Bush and Obama that has amounted to “unchecked authority” of the executive branch.
"We have what many once called an imperial presidency model of largely unchecked authority,” Turley said. "And with that trend, we also have the continued rise of this fourth branch."
Members of the committee questioned Turley and other panelists on specific laws that Obama has modified or even ignored, including the U.S. military intervention in Libya, prosecutorial discretion in enforcing immigration laws and delays for portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) said his constituents — from both sides of the aisle — are concerned about Obama selectively enforcing the law.
"The president said we are not a banana republic,” he said at the hearing. "There’s a lot of definitions to banana republic.
"But my view of a banana republic is lawless country,” Poe said. "We are – we are proud of the fact that the United States we are a country of law, not people.
“But yet we are in a situation where the law means different things to different people, and it isn't enforced,” Poe added. "And like many have said here back home in Texas, they just don't understand where the president gets the authority to do some of these things without congressional intervention.
"I agree with the people that I represent, and they're from both parties,” he said.