by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Sometimes we wonder whether the Democrats intend to run for the presidency on a campaign to bring back the New Jersey Plan. Not the plan to disrupt traffic on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge. Rather, the famed plan presented to the real George Washington at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. It would have granted the executive power of the United States not to a single individual but to members of an executive committee.
What invites the question — however hypothetical — is the reaction of the Democrats to the decision of the United States to move to drop the criminal case against President Trump’s first National Security Adviser, General Michael Flynn. This has driven the New York Times to paroxysms of self-righteousness in an editorial headlined “William Barr’s Perversion of Justice.” It amounts to a geshrai over the constitutional concept of the unitary executive.
This is the idea that the Constitution grants the president all the executive power of the government. This drives the left crazy whenever there is a Republican in the White House. Yet it comports with the plain language of the Constitution. It is sketched in the first sentence of Article 2, which says: “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” The Article commands the president to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
It also requires the president to nominate and with the advice and consent of the Senate appoint ambassadors, public ministers, judges, and “all other Officers of the United States.” Yet in the face of this constitutional concept the Democrats are horrified that Attorney General Barr is doing what they think President Trump wants.
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