Fox’s Judge Napolitano Sears Congress for Giving More and More of Its Constitutional Powers to Presidents

Fox’s Judge Napolitano Sears Congress for Giving More and More of Its Constitutional Powers to Presidents

Judge Andrew Napolitano excoriated Congresses of both the past and present for giving away too much power to the executive branch in his latest episode of Judge Napolitano’s Chambers on Fox News.

First, the judge traced the beginnings of this power transfer back to the presidency of Woodrow Wilson a century ago. Wilson had a contentious relationship with Congress, particularly the Senate, which over the course of his presidency he came to see as an impediment to the executive branch. During his presidency, he went through some bruising battles with Congress and sought ways around its authority.

Napolitano next complained that this power given up by Congress is now being wielded not only by presidents, but also by administrative agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration. These agencies, in Napolitano’s words,

“…were empowered to make rules, to enforce the rules, and to interpret the rules. Basically, to take over with respect to those rules the function of the Congress, the president, and the courts.”

This led up to Napolitano’s main point, which is that President Trump has usurped Congress’ taxation powers by imposing tariffs on foreign imports:

“The president…imposes a sales tax on hundreds of different items coming into the United States from China. Under the Constitution, only Congress can do that. A-ha! But by calling it a tariff instead of a sales tax, the president can get away with it because a tariff is meant to address an emergency.”

The problem for Napolitano is in the treatment of a trade imbalance with China as an emergency.

“What’s an emergency? Congress didn’t define what an emergency is. All of this leaves us with power going from the Congress to the president.”

He also mocked Congress for its capitulation, noting that the courts have examined this issue over the years and told Congress “you can’t give your powers away to the president.”

Yet it continues. And in Donald Trump, we have a president even less inclined than past chief executives to care.

Napolitano winds up this episode with a warning that this continued power imbalance “is a danger to our liberty.”

Watch the video above, via Fox News.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.