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  • To Whom Does an Elected Official Owe a Duty of Loyalty?

To Whom Does an Elected Official Owe a Duty of Loyalty?

William L. Kovacs

October 2022

To Whom Does an Elected Official Owe a Duty of Loyalty?

As the 2022 elections for Congress approach, citizens should ask to whom an elected official owes a duty of loyalty. Are these candidates merely politicians seeking office to enhance their brand by leading the opposition against Americans who think differently? Or are these candidates seeking office to serve as fiduciaries to the Constitution? In a dangerously polarized nation, the answer leads to dramatically different forms of governance. The current political strife leads to deceit, distrust, and conflict. Electing fiduciaries should lead to trust that our institutions work for the people.

For 256 years, the U.S. has elected representatives, but their duty of loyalty to whom or what is vague. Of course, all take an oath to the Constitution and represent constituents, but such responsibilities are so abstract they are meaningless.

The writings of John Locke, Edmond Burke, and James Madison reflect a fundamental belief that no power is granted to our representatives as individuals. These representatives are fiduciaries that must act to achieve the public good. As fiduciaries, they cannot act beyond their legal authority and must administer laws impartially. Unfortunately, today this view is rejected by what Madison terms “factions,” groups of citizens united in a common interest adverse to others in the community.

These factions are today’s political parties and interest groups that build their brand, raise massive amounts of money and acquire power by preaching division. The academic literature supports this self-interest by arguing that public officials cannot be fiduciaries since it would be impossible to give loyalty to the many diverging interests confronting elected officials.

While divergent ideas are essential and constitutionally protected, the fiduciary’s duty of loyalty does not apply to individuals, groups, or political parties. Instead, it applies to the Constitution’s separation of powers structure that allows society’s many contestable issues to be debated rationally to foster a consensus around the public good. The process includes a Congress that formulates laws after listening to all sides of a debate; an Executive administers those laws, and courts resolve the controversies between branches.

For this structure to work, each branch of government has an independent duty to act as a check on the other branches. This tension is necessary to achieve the public good. Unfortunately, when elected representatives function as politicians, they distort the constitutional structure by placing their loyalty to political parties and interest groups ahead of the institution they serve. Displaced loyalty diminishes the Constitution.

Since our Constitution is held in trust by our elected representatives, for the American people, it is protected when these officials vigorously defend the powers and duties of the branch they serve. Such defense is the best mechanism to ensure government is limited to the powers given it by the Constitution.

Today’s political climate illustrates this point. We have one political party controlling Congress and the Executive. We have an Executive making new laws, (student loan forgiveness), or refusing to enforce existing law (immigration). While the Executive’s party in Congress may have a majority of members in its caucus, at times, it still may lack the votes needed to authorize the Executive’s actions. In instances when the Executive acts without congressional authority, his party in Congress generally has the power to block the minority party from preventing the Executive’s arbitrary accumulation of power. As an end run around the Constitution, the politicians in Congress, rather than dealing with the difficulties of the legislative process, abandon their oath to uphold the separation of powers by allowing the Executive to make law through regulation, Executive Order, or simply not enforcing laws.

In theory, the Constitution works well. In practice, however, the constitutional mandate of separation of powers is regularly abused. When Congress ignores its duties to defend the separation of powers, it limits the ability of the constitutional structure to fully allow the multitude of interests a voice in the debate needed to achieve a governing consensus. For several decades party-line voting (Democrats vote one way; Republicans oppose) has become the norm. In the 1960s, party-line voting was around 60%, but by the Trump administration, it reached 90%. Without letting the structure of the Constitution work, these representatives breach their fiduciary duty to the Constitution by allowing the Executive to enhance its power by diminishing the power of Congress.

When loyalty to political parties and interest groups eliminates the separation of powers protections in the Constitution, citizens must rely on the interest groups named Democrats or Republicans for protection. Today such actions are arbitrary political power. Tomorrow it could be tyranny.

This article was first published in TheHill.com

William L. Kovacs, author of Reform the Kakistocracy, winner of the 2021 Independent Press Award for Political/Social Change, and former senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • The Real Separation of Powers: Government vs Citizens

The Real Separation of Powers: Government vs Citizens

William L. Kovacs

April 2022

The Real Separation of Powers: Government vs Citizens

Scholars pontificate on the brilliance of the separation of powers in our Constitution as a means of protecting citizens by limiting the power of each branch of our government. They talk as if each branch actively works to control the power of the other branches to protect citizens. Unfortunately, these scholars miss reality. The three branches of our government work together to enhance federal powers at the expense of citizens. As the power of the federal government increases, the rights of the individual shrink.

The framework of our Constitution is so broad and vague as to allow the federal government to be capitalist, communist, or socialist, or as now, a “wokeist” system. Moreover, the federal government can tax us as much as it needs to satisfy its wants. From 1932 to 1981, the marginal tax rate in the U.S. ranged between 63%  and 91%. Today, it’s hard to believe, that the federal government can’t live on $5 trillion a year.

Cementing this divide, the U.S. Supreme Court, shortly after our Constitution was ratified, adopted the English doctrine (not a law) of sovereign immunity, i.e. “The King (now the federal government) Can Do No Wrong.” The court’s decision adopted the doctrine as the law of the land. In simple terms, no one can sue the federal government without its consent. While the federal government has consented to be sued on routine matters (e.g., torts, breaches of contract, copyright violations, open records laws, and violations of civil rights when government officials are acting illegally but under color of law), the doctrine of sovereign immunity still bars citizens from challenging the illegal operations of government.

Presently the United States is a system of political rulers and citizen subjects. Citizens can change this system by electing members of Congress who will serve as trustees of the Constitution and fiduciaries to us. Our founders attempted to implement this vision through the Oath’s clause, by not recognizing political parties in the Constitution, and by vesting all legislative power in Congress. Unfortunately, Congress has abandoned its duties under the Constitution and the Executive and the judiciary have vigorously grabbed additional powers.

Notwithstanding Congress being granted all legislative power, it has delegated much of its legislative power to the Executive. Once such delegation occurs, the president through Executive Orders, proclamations and agency rulemakings, determines the law of the nation. Routinely Congress passes a law but the president ignores it, or the president uses agency rulemakings to substitute its will for the intentions of Congress. Examples include the open southern border, lockdowns in the pandemic, stripping legally held permits from the fossil fuel industry, and imposing climate change regulations without any authorizing law.

Compounding this travesty of congressional delegation of legislative powers to the Executive branch, the federal courts, since the founding of the Republic, have operated as super-legislatures. While the Constitution clearly mandates “All legislative Powers … shall be vested in a Congress of the United States,” the U.S. Supreme Court gladly approved of Congress delegating its legislative authority away, requiring only that Congress indicate some “intelligible principle” to the agency implementing the law. “An ‘intelligible principle’ could be anything in the ‘public interest, convenience, or necessity or considered ‘just and reasonable.’ Being put in such subjective terms gives agencies vast discretion when enacting new rules.”

As a super-legislature, with almost unreviewable power, the Supreme Court created rights under National Environmental Policy Act that allow environmental groups to enjoin any action they believe is not the correct environmental decision. This decision gives the environmental activists the ability to control governmental permitting decisions that encompass new oil, gas, and manufacturing decisions. Another example is the Supreme Court creating a federal right to an abortion by “discovering” some non-existent penumbra of previously unknown rights in the constitution. Simply, the Supreme Court has rewritten the Constitution in cases too numerous to mention, especially during the period 1937 – 1944.

Even in routine administrative rulemakings involving a vague statute, the Supreme Court allows the agency fills in the blanks, rather than making Congress do its work.

As the Supreme Court and the Executive expand their power, Congress is placed in a state of helplessness. It does not matter how the law reads; the law is what the court or agency says it means until Congress can gather the votes to overrule the decisions of the other branches. In a divided Congress this is almost an impossible effort.

Once in this state of helplessness, Congress has only one power to control the administrative state; the power of the purse.  Under our Constitution “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”  If one party is in control of the Executive and both houses of Congress, the will of the Executive generally prevails as Congress is a mere rubber stamp. However, if a minority party controls just one house of Congress, it can refuse to appropriate the monies needed to run the administrative state. While Congress could not eliminate the Executive or Judicial branches, it could dramatically scale back their funding as a means of reigning in a massive federal government.

While withholding the funds to operate the administrative state is viewed by many as abhorrent; it is the only constitutional power Congress can exercise that cannot be blocked by the other branches. If Congress fears using its power of the purse against the administrative state or an out-of-control judiciary, then it is a useless branch of government.

As citizens we can speak out, protest, demonstrate, complain at government meetings, and send nasty letters to our elected officials, but in the end, we will be ignored if the government wants to ignore us. The government controls our money. In most instances, government, through the withholding tax, has its money before we get our paychecks. The government controls the police to ensure we do nothing other than what it permits. The federal government has even designated parents speaking out at school board meetings to be domestic terrorists. Moreover, the government has and will most likely use, the military and its weapons to ensure citizens act only in ways acceptable to it. Police even blocked the road on the truckers’ convoy so it could not protest in DC.  The truckers’ convoy had to good sense to avoid the grave danger of protesting when the police and likely the federal government would use force to stop them. Had they been Black Lives Matter, they could have burned down the city and it would have been called a peaceful protest. That is life under a woke American government.

The only power we the people have to control government is our power to vote for our members of Congress. We do not vote for the President, the Supreme Court, or the millions of nameless bureaucrats that make laws every day through rulemakings. Our right to vote for members of Congress is extraordinarily powerful. It is a legal mechanism for a peaceful revolution. With our votes, we can vote out all elected officials over six years and elect a Congress that is a trustee of the Constitution and a fiduciary to the people.

William L. Kovacs has served as senior vice-president for the US Chamber of Commerce, chief counsel to a congressional committee, and a partner in law DC law firms. His book Reform the Kakistocracy is the winner of the 2021 Independent Press Award for Political/Social Change. His second book, The Left’s Little Red Book on Forming a New Green Republic, quotes the Left on how it intends to control society by using climate change to eliminate capitalism, people, and truth.

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  • FOR WHOM DID WE FORM A GOVERNMENT?

FOR WHOM DID WE FORM A GOVERNMENT?

William L. Kovacs

September 2019

FOR WHOM DID WE FORM A GOVERNMENT?

This question was first asked at the Constitutional Convention. While there is the occasional politician who asks it during a campaign, the question is mostly rhetorical.  Our politicians really do not want a response since it is clear that our government today is formed for politicians and political parties to control the resources of the nation. What’s worse, is that we are accepting of a government that now views itself as our principal; not our agent.

We have allowed our federal government to grow form one of limited powers to one of massive power that occupies almost every cavity of human existence. It is a government that cannot pass necessary appropriation bills, control its debt, or even determine when it is appropriate to declare war. We give our government $4 trillion a year to operate, but it is never enough. We now have $22 trillion of debt, which is about $64,000 of debt for every person in the nation, including infants born today. Each person’s share of the debt increases by $3,000 for every additional trillion dollars of debt. At what point will our debt put us into involuntary servitude to the federal government? Another rhetorical question since our government views taxes as an obligation of citizenship.

Since “We the People” bear the blame for allowing this reversal of roles to occur; it is our duty to fix the situation. We owe this to posterity. But how? Reading a newspaper, or listening to the media or politicians or surfing the web; there is only negative chatter, personal attacks, and many factual inaccuracies. There is rarely a discussion of how to address these issues and when?

In my opinion articles I promise never to complain about an issue without at least discussing ways to address it. In future articles I will talk about one issue at a time and offer solutions to address that issue. For this article however, let me offer a few general suggestions.

First, we don’t expect enough from our elected representatives. They may be politicians but we must mandate they be trustees. In James Madison’s “The Federalist 46” he argued that the federal and state governments are in fact trustees of the people; not some amorphous entity called a “government”. Since government only operates through people, it is our representatives that must be the trustees. Each trustee owes its duty of loyalty to the Constitution and to the branch of government in which they serve. Such loyalty cannot be divided, nor can the trustee put personal or political benefit before that of the beneficiary. By acting with loyalty to the institution in which they serve, each elected official will ensure there is a real separation of powers in our government. This protects us from tyranny, big government and preserves liberty.

http://noamchen.com/?attachment_id=6442 Action: Demand elected officials publicly pledge to serve as trustees of the Constitution, not handmaidens of a political party.  where to buy modafinil usa Breach of the pledge establishes a violation of their oath to support the Constitution.

Second, we must all remember that political parties are nothing more than associations of individuals organized to take control of government, our resources and liberty. Why should two associations of individuals, i.e. Republicans and Democrats, be able to manipulate the laws of the nation to allow them control of our government?

buy Pregabalin 75 mg Action: Demand a public commitment from elected officials to speak out against political parties gaming the voting process and limiting who can represent citizens, by constantly filing lawsuits or initiating party-centric legislation to deny independent and smaller party candidates a place on the ballot.

Thirdly, Article I of our Constitution provides that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress…” Unfortunately, Congress over the last eighty-five years has delegated to the executive the power to fill in the blanks in the broad and vague laws it passed. This gives the executive the power to make, by regulation, many of the laws of the nation. Also, the lower courts, through the use of nationwide injunctions, make national policy through court order. Other than the Supreme Court, the lower courts are creatures of Congress. While Congress has not granted the lower courts specific power to issue nationwide injunctions, Congress has stood silently as the lower federal courts act as super-legislatures.

Action:  Congress must reclaim from the executive and the courts its full Article I power. It must clearly legislate the return of such powers. If the executive vetoes these enactments and Congress cannot override the veto, Congress has exclusive control over the appropriations process, which it must use to return the nation to one of separation of powers between the branches of government.

 Citizens have options for reclaiming our government from the politicians, we just need to start using them.

This article was originally published in the July 18,2019 edition of The Libertarian Republic.

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  • Reform the Kakistocracy: an essay

Reform the Kakistocracy: an essay

William L. Kovacs

July 2019

Kakistocracy, a term describing what our government has become: a government controlled by “leaders” who are the least able or least principled citizens.

Over the last five-plus decades the kakistocracy transformed our federal government from one of limited powers to one of immense power. Most troubling, the transformation occurred without any changes to the Constitution. This decades-long transformation dramatically limited the powers of Congress, produced an extraordinarily powerful executive, and allowed the courts to become super-legislatures. These changes directly impact how each branch of government is able to fulfill its most essential role as a check on the powers of the other branches.

How did this transformation occur? First and foremost, Congress, our primary law-maker delegated massive amounts of authority to the Executive, which very gladly accepted all the powers delegated. The Executive using the bureaucracy and regulatory authority, implemented the delegated authorities to accumulate immense power over most aspects of society.

The courts not satisfied deciding just real disputes between adversaries; accumulated more powers than given them by the Constitution or Congress through rulings that extended their authority from the parties before the court to broad-based policy decisions and nationwide injunctions. The National Environmental Policy Act, (“NEPA”) is an excellent illustration of how the courts create legal rights never authorized by Congress.  This six-page statute requiring federal agencies to consider the environmental implications of their decisions was judicially expanded to provide environmental groups the right to bring lawsuits against any agency to force proposed environmental impact statements to be more and more comprehensive, sometimes thousands of pages.  NEPA alone can stop any project in the nation.

Another example is the transformation of the Clean Air Act, a law designed to regulate specific, powerful pollutants harmful to human health, into a law that governs almost any industrial activity in the country.

The result of the transformation of our government is decades of policy failures, harmful wealth inequality, a health care system costing two times more than in other industrialized nations, more than a few undeclared wars and the imposition of such massive amounts of debt that citizens will eventually live in involuntary servitude to the federal government. The share of the debt owed by every citizen of this country is approximately $64,000, and for every trillion dollars of new debt accumulated by our government, each of us will owe another $3000.

Reforming the kakistocracy will not be an easy undertaking in a politically divided nation. Presently most members of the kakistocracy give their loyalty to the political party that put them in office. Unfortunately, by them giving more loyalty to a political party than to the Constitution and the branch of government in which these individuals serve, they have destroyed the ability of the respective branches to be both a constitutional check on each other and reasonable adversaries working to find solutions to the problems of the nation.

Our Constitution does not even mention political parties which are nothing more than associations of individuals, organized to take control of our government. However, our Constitution clearly states the responsibilities of the three branches of government and requires every officer of the United States to take an oath to the Constitution. Taking such oath means every official must act as a fiduciary to the Constitution and the branch of government in which they serve and not to the political party that supported them.

The most fundamental change now needed to control the kakistocracy is for members of Congress to abandon their abiding loyalty to the two major political parties and work as fiduciaries to the Constitution, and the institution of Congress, in addressing the issues facing the nation. This approach requires conforming the actions taken by Congress with the constitutional limits imposed on it. By acting as fiduciaries and not as political parties, Congress will function as an institution to do the peoples’ business rather than as a political club doing the bidding of the special interests.  This change opens up ways for Congress: to address the federal deficit; reduce the massive regulatory structure created to manage the administrative state; ensure there are no more wars unless declared by Congress and to devolve to the states many of the powers taken from them, by the federal government, over the last fifty years.

As citizens, we must always be mindful of two facts. First, we elect individuals to run our country, not political parties. Political parties are special interests, not fiduciaries. Why do we trust them to run our government? The alternative is for individuals to seek election on the promise to serve as fiduciaries and we could elect them.

Second, it is the natural tendency of government and those who benefit the most from it, to continuously grow it. The more government grows, the more resources are available to those in control for redistribution to the beneficiaries of their choice. The only way to control government is to streamline it, a process that will have many positive benefits. Less government means it will need less of our money to function. When the government has less money, lobbyists and politicians will have less interest in government since there will be less to take from it.

Citizens cannot expect the government to control itself. In a democracy, it is only citizens who can control their government by determining who runs it. The brilliant part of our Constitution is that it allows us to participate in a legal, political revolution on a regular basis.  This legal process, called voting, makes it possible for us to completely replace the “leadership” of our government in a four to six-year period.  Its time citizens elect citizens who commit to serving as fiduciaries to the Constitution and the institution in which they serve; not politicians whose loyalty is to a political party.

This article was originally published in Reality News, June 2019

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  • State Legislatures: Last Guardians of the Republic

State Legislatures: Last Guardians of the Republic

William L. Kovacs

July 2019

State Legislatures: Last Guardians of the Republic

The federal government is unable to control its printing of money. The nation has accumulated massive debt.  Wars have continued for years without Congress declaring war. Congress ignores pressing issues such as immigration and health care and fails to enact budgets or appropriations regularly. We need to ask ourselves; can we stop the runaway train before it crashes causing significant injury to the nation?

Our Constitution has many braking systems in place to stop a runaway government, but so far, they have all failed. Primarily, our system of checks and balances which was devised to ensure each branch of government operated as a check on the other branches. As our elected representatives give more and more loyalty to the political party, they are a member of, than to the institution in which they serve, the power of the institution of Congress dwindles leaving only the power of the political party to check the overreaching activities of the opposing political party.

The Executive branch aggressively seeks to increase its power through Executive Order and the issuance of regulations to carry out the intent of the Executive rather than the intent of Congress, thus further diminishing the powers of Congress and the checks and balances so necessary restraining the powers of the federal government.

Our courts affirm the delegation of legislative authority from Congress to the Executive through the passage of broad and vague laws that require the Executive to fill in the legislative blanks. Moreover, when the blanks are filled in, the courts give deference to agency action, viewing the agency as the expert, notwithstanding congressional intent.

The other mechanisms in our Constitution to control a massive federal government have also failed. Every year Congress has the opportunity to control spending through appropriations, yet every year appropriations and our debt increase. In 1970 our debt was $371 billion; in 1982 our national debt reached $1 trillion for the first time, and today we are reaching twenty-two trillion dollars. It is projected that we will add a trillion dollars to our debt every year going forward. If Congress can’t utilize its absolute control over spending to keep the nation living within our means, and the Executive refuses to veto expenditures we cannot afford, then the checks and balances established by our Constitution are useless.

Another possibility is for the people of this nation to control Congress through a common activity that can regularly be utilized – voting. If our present government is failing us, we can change our entire government over six years. Our founders provided us a legal form of peaceful revolution at the ballot box. Unfortunately, it appears that the citizens of this nation are just as split and angry as the politicians in Congress, thus leaving us without the ability to control the federal government.

Fortunately, there is one final option, but one never utilized, to put the brakes on an out-of-control federal government. Article V of the Constitution places such power in the hands of the fifty state legislatures. Under Article V, upon application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states, (34), Congress must call a Convention to propose Amendments to the Constitution. The Amendments adopted by the Convention become part of our Constitution if ratified by three-fourths, (38), of the state legislatures or by Conventions of three – fourths of the several states. The method or ratification is up to Congress, and that is the only power Congress has if thirty-four states submit similar applications to Congress.

The state convention process cannot be denied, vetoed or regulated by Congress or the governors of the respective states. The selected delegates would control the Convention. While there have been over four hundred applications to call a Convention of the States, there has not been a sufficient number of states making the same or similar applications.

The point of raising the Article V, Constitutional Amendment process, is not to promote a Convention of the States, a group of the same name is actively pursuing that. My point is to remind all members of the state legislatures that they have taken an Oath that binds them to support the Constitution of the United States as currently constituted. If the state legislatures believe that the massive, debt-ridden, federal government that presently runs our nation is not operating it within the framework of our Constitution, the state legislatures must act for the citizens of the country.

While members of these state legislature may view their duties solely as state functions, the oath they have taken to the Constitution obligates them to ensure the federal government works according to the Constitution. If the federal government operates outside of the Constitution, the state legislatures have been given the constitutional responsibility to save the Republic with a Convention that hopefully restores common sense to the operations of our federal government. If a consensus on Amendments comes out of the convention, the convention delegates will have to persuade the American people and their state legislatures that controlling the federal government is essential to the nation. Reaching a consensus on one or more Constitutional Amendments to control the federal government will be our best chance to reflect not only what we want the country to be, but it will also tell us if we can save the nation.

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  • The Constitution Mandates Government Officials Act as Fiduciaries

The Constitution Mandates Government Officials Act as Fiduciaries

William L. Kovacs

June 2019

The Constitution Mandates Government Officials Act as Fiduciaries

A fiduciary is a person who has a duty, created by a voluntary undertaking, to act for the benefit of another in matters connected with such effort. Government officials voluntarily seek and assume positions in our government. They freely take an oath to support the Constitution. When they voluntarily assume the responsibility of managing our government, we entrust them with our money, our property and liberty, the fair implementation of our laws, and the defense of our country.

Government officials must never act for personal benefit or the benefit of the political party that supported them. Such actions are a breach of fiduciary duty. These are significant responsibilities that, if not correctly executed, can create massive abuses that inflict great harm on our people and nation.

Government officials having fiduciary obligations is a controversial topic. There are more than a few well-crafted law review articles that argue the fiduciary duty standard cannot be easily transferred from trust or corporate law to the public law. These scholars argue in the public arena there is simply no way to determine who is the beneficiary of a government officials’ duty of loyalty. There are too many beneficial interests and legal relationships that are qualitatively different, for a rational trust policy to be constructed.

These law review articles provide excellent straw-men examples of the unworkability of imposing a fiduciary relationship between government officials and diverse laws to be administered, constituents, institutions to be served, and political parties since there is no consensus on what interests are to be protected. The reasoning seems to be that since validly enacted laws, regulations, and orders are constitutional, the exercise on a fiduciary duty must encompass all actions of the government, or the fiduciary duty cannot be imposed on the government official.

This “too much complexity argument” misses the critical point by jumping to the conclusion that to be a fiduciary the government official must be a fiduciary to every constituent for all validly enacted laws, regulations, orders, and other government actions.  That is not what our Constitution mandates. Our Constitution is clear; the Oaths Clause refers to the operation of the framework of the Constitution. As such, all actions must be consistent with its structure of limited government held in check by the separation of powers between the three branches of government. Therefore, the fiduciary duty merely reaffirms what the Oaths Clause imposes – loyalty must be to the operation of our Constitution and the institution in which one serves.

To ensure a limited government, each branch must continuously operate as a check on the other branches. For this to occur, the fiduciary duty of each member of our government is to the branch in which they serve and not to a political party that may have helped them achieve their employment.

When this system of checks and balances fails, it is a breach of fiduciary duty on the part of those officials in our several branches of government. This breach of fiduciary duty occurs when members of the government are more loyal to the political parties supporting them than to the branch of government in which they serve. Our Constitution establishes institutions of government to protect us by having each branch check the powers of the other branches of government. Unfortunately, today members of our government work as Republicans or Democrats and not for the institution in which they serve. The goal of these Republicans or Democrats is to achieve the overall interests of their political parties. Just look at Congress and the large number of party-line votes and how each party connives to best the other. Look the Executive who usually only works with the political party of which he is a member to deliver the votes needed to carry out the Executive’s wishes. Alternatively, look at the courts and all the judge shopping that goes on to ensure that the court where the filing occurs agrees with the political position of the party filing the lawsuit.

When political parties so control the power structure that they replace the functioning of the institution with the goals of a political party, we citizens have our rights greatly diminished. We are then only protected by political parties, and cannot depend on the respective institutions of government for protection.

We citizens need to continually remind ourselves that political parties are nothing more than special interest organizations created for one purpose – to control the government of the United States. Political parties have so successfully organized that one of the two political parties many times, controls all aspects of our government. When in control they make whatever laws or regulations they wish to enact, subject only to whatever political power the opposing party may have to limit the majority’s power. In this instance, the institutions of our government are irrelevant.

If a president wants an illegal war and his party controls Congress, then it is war; notwithstanding the War Powers clause of the Constitution. If the president wants to create laws by regulation instead of going through Congress, and the opposing party in Congress cannot stop it, then the rules become law even if Congress never intended its law to be so expansive.

While their many examples of how political power trumps institutional power, what is clear is that if members of Congress were operating as fiduciaries to the institution that checks presidential or judicial overreach, rather than as a political machine, Congress would check the executive or judicial branches of any constitutional overreach. Also, vice versa for the other branches. Such checks are not available when our institutions operate to achieve the goals of a political party rather than functioning as an institution that checks the powers of the other branches.

When our government officials work to help the political parties control our government instead of working to protect the constitutional powers of the institution in which they serve, our government officials breach their fiduciary duty to the Constitution and the citizens of the nation. Our government officials cannot have divided loyalty between a political party and our Constitution. Such divided loyalty does not provide citizens the same protections as if the members of our government remained loyal to the institutions in which they serve.

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  • Separation of Powers Demands Congress Reclaim Its Powers

Separation of Powers Demands Congress Reclaim Its Powers

William L. Kovacs

May 2019

Separation of Powers Demands Congress Reclaim Its Powers

Nothing in our Constitution can be more explicit in intent and meaning than the first sentence which reads: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”

To fulfill this Article I, constitutional mandate, Congress needs to act as an institution that both legislates and checks the powers of the Executive and the courts when those institutions legislate in ways not intended by Congress.  Such actions require an institution comprised of members who act as fiduciaries to the Constitution and who are loyal to the institution in which they serve.  At all times, these members must be willing to provide the checks on the other branches of government to ensure Congress is the primary lawmaker.

When members of Congress become more loyal to the political parties of which they are members than to the Congress to which they are elected, Congress morphs from a constitutional bulwark into a political association, which is nothing more than a corporation whose mission is to control the government of the United States.  Even more insidious is when members of Congress and the Executive are of the same party. In this situation members of Congress generally give all loyalty to the Executive, thus abdicating their primary role as a check on the powers of the other branches of government.

Notwithstanding the declarative constitutional statement on the powers of Congress in Article I of our Constitution, we find ourselves living in an age in which Congress has delegated its legislative powers to the federal administrative state to determine what Congress intended. With such delegated authority, administrative agencies impose by regulation the intent of the Executive rather than the intent of Congress.

Compounding this travesty, the federal courts, for decades, grant great deference to the decisions of the administrative state. In cases in which a statute is vague, and the agency fills in the blanks, the court views the agency action proper since the court considers the agency as the expert. In other situations where the record is large, complex or in need of understanding science or economics, the court upholds agency regulations if the agency can point to any part of the administrative record that establishes the agency decision rational, notwithstanding the intent of Congress.

Moreover, the courts on more than a few occasions legislate by issuing orders that expand laws in ways never intended by Congress.  These actions place our Congress in a state of helplessness unless it can muster a super-majority of its members to overrule court decisions; an almost impossible task.

Once in this state of helplessness, Congress has only one power to control the courts or administrative state; that is the power of the purse.  Under our Constitution “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”  If a party is in control of the Executive and both houses of Congress, the will of the Executive generally prevails. However, if a minority party controls one house of Congress, it can withhold the monies needed to run the parts of the administrative state it believes are acting improperly. While withholding the funds to operate the administrative state is viewed by many as abhorrent; it is the only constitutional power that Congress can exercise that cannot be blocked by the other branches. If Congress cannot withhold monies to fund the administrative state out of fear of political backlash, then it is a useless power for controlling the administrative state.

To address this failure, we citizens must demand that every member of Congress pledge to support and defend the institution of Congress; not the political party of which it is a member.  Only by making and keeping such pledge can the government official act as a check on the other branches of government, as intended by our Constitution.  If a person seeking election to Congress cannot make and keep this pledge, citizens should withhold their vote from that person, which is our real power to control the Kakistocracy.

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