Michael A. Walsh
Having lost the House of Representatives in the last election, the Obama administration is now imposing "fun damental change" via executive order, regulatory fiat and political pressure. Talk about the unitary executive:
* The Environmental Protection Agency has ruled that Shell Oil Co. may not drill for oil this summer in the Arctic Circle off Alaska, where an estimated 27 billion barrels of domestic oil are waiting to be extracted.
Never mind that Shell's already spent nearly $4 billion on the project, including $2.2 billion to Uncle Sam for the leases. No, the EPA's appeals board said the oil giant had failed to include possible greenhouse-gas emissions from an icebreaking vessel in its calculations and that the project might somehow threaten the health of the 245 people in an Eskimo village 70 miles away.
* Continuing President Obama's war on domestic oil production, the Fish and Wildlife Service is considering the three-inch Dunes Sagebrush Lizard for inclusion on the endangered species list -- a decision that could spell doom for two of Texas's top oil-producing counties. And right behind the lizard is the Lesser Prairie Chicken.
* The National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint against a private employer, Boeing, for having the capitalist gall to want to move 30 percent of its Dreamliner jumbo-jet production from highly unionized Washington State to right-to-work South Carolina.
The NLRB accuses Boeing of union-busting in retaliation for the four strikes the union has staged since 1989. Boeing, not unreasonably, says it wants to make its assembly lines less vulnerable to union-led work stoppages.
So a federal agency formed by executive order in 1934 asserts the right to tell private companies where they may or may not do business.
* The NLRB is also suing Arizona and South Dakota over voter-approved state constitutional amendments that would require workers to vote in secret-ballot elections, instead of just signing cards saying they wished to unionize. The "card check" bill couldn't make it into law even in the old, hyper-Democratic Congress.
So a bunch of bureaucrats nonetheless mean to require card-check against the wishes of the voters in two sovereign states -- and have reserved the right to sue South Carolina and Utah for the same "offense," too.
* In a move to end-run the Supreme Court's recent Citizens United ruling, which held that corporations have the same free-speech rights as individuals, the White House is drafting an executive order that would require private companies with federal business to disclose contributions to independent political groups. (They already have to report candidate donations.)
So it's an attempt to accomplish by ukase what Democrats failed to do last year when Congress rejected the Disclose Act. And, naturally, public-employee unions would be exempt.
* Then there's this week's flap over the Defense of Marriage Act, which the administration says it will no longer defend. Under pressure from the gay lobby, the law firm hired by the House Republicans to step into the breach announced it was pulling out.
So, our elected representatives in Congress may pass a law and a president may sign it, but if Obama decides -- absent any Supreme Court ruling -- that the law is unconstitutional, out it goes.
It all boils down to this: Are we to be a constitutional government with three distinct branches, or a single executive entity that makes policy, carries it out and decides for itself whether it's constitutional or not?
That's what the next presidential race is really all about.