Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal:
How does Congress deal with a President who exceeds his appointment power, rewrites laws when it suits him, and shuts down the government rather than compromise with a co-equal branch over policy differences? That’s the dilemma Republicans on Capitol Hill have faced, and it explains why Loretta Lynch may not be confirmed as Attorney General for weeks, if it all.
Senate Republicans are blocking a vote on Ms. Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York who would be the first black woman to run the Justice Department. Most Republicans don’t have a problem with Ms. Lynch’s qualifications. Their problem is with President Obama and his willful disregard for the limits of executive power.
These columns believe that Presidents deserve their cabinet nominees in nearly all cases, but Mr. Obama’s governance presents Congress with a larger Madisonian dilemma. James Madison designed a constitutional system of checks and balances to prevent executive or legislative tyranny. This works best when Presidents and Congresses assert their legal powers but step back from constitutional excesses that lead to judicial intervention or political crises.
Mr. Obama honors no such limits even when he admits they exist. On immigration policy, he said 22 times that he lacked the authority to issue work permits to millions of illegal immigrants only to order precisely that. He is negotiating a nuclear arms deal with Iran that he will submit for approval to the United Nations but not Congress.
The Supreme Court has scolded Mr. Obama for making recess appointments when Congress wasn’t in recess. It has rebuked him for rewriting the Clean Air Act without statutory authority. And it is now hearing a challenge to his decision to spend billions of dollars in subsidies without clear authorization in the ObamaCare statute.