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The United States Constitution is under attack. What are the consequences to our country if the President of the United States is able to write law by executive order?

by Sydney Farris
Class of 2014

Giving the Executive Branch legislative power would tip the scales of our government, especially since it would be a significantly more direct path than which Congress must take to write law and since this power would be concentrated in the hands of one person. The Constitution does not specifically give the President the right to issue executive orders (though they wouldn’t be known as such until the mid 19th century), but the Constitution does charge the President with the responsibility of executing laws under Article II, Section 3, which makes the interpretation of orders much more complicated.

To understand the legal justification of executive privilege, we look at Schenck v. United States—not at the case itself, but at the resonating term Wendell Holmes used to define a crisis. During World War I, Charles T. Schenck mailed circular letters to draftees, suggesting that the draft was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment motivated by the capitalist system. The Supreme Court unanimously decided against Schenck, concluding that his First Amendment Rights did not apply under the circumstances due to the “clear and present danger” of war.

Regarding the opening statement that the United States Constitution is currently under attack, it’s important to note that, with the exception of Harrison, every President since George Washington has issued at least one executive order and that the number of executive orders a single president used peaked at over 3,500 with Franklin D. Roosevelt. Of course, Roosevelt served nearly four terms, but President Wilson accumulated 1,803 orders within his two terms. After Eisenhower’s tenure as President, no president has exceeded the use of 400 executive orders; as of March, President Obama has only used 175. The question, of course, is rather the constitutionality of the orders.
United States v. Nixon was the precedential case in which President Nixon tried to use executive privilege to withhold evidence that had repercussions for him and his administration. When Attorney General John Mitchell subpoenaed tapes secretly recorded in the Oval Office, Nixon claimed executive privilege. The Court made a unanimous decision against Nixon, concluding that the reach of executive privilege is not limitless, thereby setting the standard for future incidents. The infamous Watergate scandal alerted the nation not to what the President did, but what he kept secret. The first possible example of the privilege was when Jefferson withheld military information from the Vice President’s tribunal, so consider that the head of the Executive Branch has been doing similar coverups for centuries, whether such a decision was made in the interest of the greater good or in self-interest.

An executive order becomes unconstitutional when it writes legislation. This is an obvious violation of separation of powers and a sign that the executive branch has overstepped its boundaries. And it does not go unnoticed. Two executive orders have been struck down by U.S. Courts: one in which Truman placed all steel mills in the country under federal control and one in which Clinton prevented corporations with strike-breakers on the roll to contract with the United States government. In both cases, these orders were overturned because they attempted to write law rather than clarify or enforce it. You could say their intentions were good—Truman was combatting the Gilded Age monopolies that threatened to tear apart the American economy and Clinton wanted to protect workers—but good intentions don’t hold up in court. Though keep in mind that criticisms of any political move are always fueled by the moral opposition.

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2012 GIRC scholarship Recipient

Congratulations to Sydney Farris
on receiving the 2014 Greater Irving Republican Club (GIRC) Scholarship Award.


Congratulations to Sydney Farris on receiving the 2014 Greater Irving Republican Club (GIRC) Scholarship Award. In June, the GIRC awarded a one thousand dollar ($1,000) scholarship to Sydney, a 2014 graduate of Irving High School. The check was presented by William Brown, President, past presidents Oscar Ward and Michael Huebner. This is the fifth year this scholarship has been awarded.

Sydney was a member of the Varsity Orchestra, served as Student Council officer for three years, an AP Scholar with Distinction, Summa Cum Laude for 7 years, member of the National Honor Society, and chosen by IHS faculty as Top Tigerette. She has volunteered on several missions trips, Keep Irving Beautiful, PTA, Vacation Bible School, and Great Day of Service. Sydney will attend Texas A&M University with a major in Architecture.
The 2014 GIRC Scholarship Topic: The United States Constitution is under attack. What are the consequences to our country if the President of the United States is able to write law by executive order?

The GIRC meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:00PM at Spring Creek Barbeque on Airport Freeway. Visitors and guests are always WELCOME!

The requirements for the scholarship were:
• Graduating high school senior
• Resident Citizen of Irving
• Cumulative grade point average of
3.0 or better

The applicants were also required to complete an application that included a teacher recommendation and an original 500 to 600 word essay entitled “The United States Constitution is under attack. What are the consequences to our country if the President of the United States is able to write law by executive order?”.

The GIRC plans to continue to award a scholarship each year to students who reside in the city of Irving.



GIRC's 2014 Scholarship Award recipient, presented to Sydney Farris in June by Mike Huebner, Oscar Ward, and William Brown
.