Power Surge

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Gene Healy, Senior Editor at the Cato Institute, and Timothy Lynch, Director of the Project on Criminal Justice, are co-authors of a white paper entitled “Power Surge: The Constitutional Record of George W. Bush.” This white paper details how Bush, contrary to his presidential oath swearing to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,” has extended presidential powers to an unprecedented extent.

Unfortunately, far from defending the Constitution, President Bush has repeatedly sought to strip out the limits the document places on federal power. In its official legal briefs and public actions, the Bush administration has advanced a view of federal power that is astonishingly broad, a view that includes:

* a federal government empowered to regulate core political speech-and restrict it greatly when it counts the most: in the days before a federal election;

* a president who cannot be restrained, through validly enacted statutes, from pursuing any tactic he believes to be effective in the war on terror;

* a president who has the inherent constitutional authority to designate American citizens suspected of terrorist activity as “enemy combatants,” strip them of any constitutional protection, and lock them up without charges for the duration of the war on terror- in other words, perhaps forever; and

* a federal government with the power to supervise virtually every aspect of American life, from kindergarten, to marriage, to the grave.

President Bush’s constitutional vision is, in short, sharply at odds with the text, history, and structure of our Constitution, which authorizes a government of limited powers.

This white paper is particularly important because it comes from the Cato Institute which is far from a “Liberal” think tank. Cato generally represents the position of free market Republicans. You can download a pdf of the complete report here.

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