America, Land of the Free?
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- "The establishment of our institutions forms the most important epoch that history hath recorded. They extend unexampled felicity to the whole body of our fellow citizens, and are the admiration of other nations. To preserve and hand them down in their utmost purity to the remotest ages will require the existence and practice of virtues and talents equal to those which were displayed in acquiring them. It is ardently hoped and confidently believed that these will not be wanting."
- America is no longer the land of the free. In Senate Report 93-549, the U.S. Congress made the astonishing admission that, since at least 9 March 1933, the American people have lived under a state of national emergency (martial law). Instead of a federal Government of delegated and limited powers, what now operates from Washington, D.C. is a centralized military despotism which claims ultimate sovereignty over its citizens and rules them by statute in all cases whatsoever. Gone is the right of the people to own property, gone is their right to due process in a constitutional court, and gone are their liberties.
REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON THE TERMINATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY BY THE UNITED STATES SENATE, NOVEMBER 19, 1973, Senate Report No. 93-549.
Since March 9, 1933, the United States has been in a state of declared national emergency. In fact, in 1973, at the time of this report, there were in effect four presidentially proclaimed states of emergency. In addition to the national emergency declared by President Roosevelt in 1933, there was also the national emergency proclaimed by President Truman on December 6, 1950 during the Korean conflict, and the states of national emergency declared by President Nixon on March 23, 1970, and August 15, 1971. Those proclamations gave force to 470 provisions of Federal Law. Those hundreds of statutes delegate to the President extraordinary powers ordinarily exercised by Congress, which affect the lives of American citizens in a host of all-encompassing manners. This vast range of powers, taken together, confer enough authority to rule the country without reference to normal Constitutional process.
Under the powers delegated by these statutes the President may: seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and in a plethora of particular ways, control the lives of all American citizens.
The Executive Branch of Government, (President) under our Constitution, except for Recommendation and Veto, has no legislative power. The issuance of an Executive Order, which has no Congressional authorization or review by the judiciary, is in truth, a law made by a single man, the President of the United States. Congress has in most important respects, except for the final action of floor debate and formal passage of bills, permitted the Executive Branch to draft and in large measure to "make the laws". This has occurred despite the Constitutional responsibility conferred on Congress by Article I, Section 8 of the Federal Constitution which states that it is Congress that " makes all Laws ". President Roosevelt greatly extended the concept of "emergencies" to which expansion of executive powers might be applied. In so doing, he established a pattern that was followed frequently: In time of crisis the President should utilize any statutory authority readily at hand, regardless of its original purposes, with the firm expectation of ex post facto congressional concurrence.
Beginning with F.D.R., the extensive use of delegated powers exercised under an aura of crisis has become a dominant aspect of the Presidency. (See Senate Report 93-549, pg 5)
A review of the laws passed since the first state of national emergency was declared in 1933, reveals a consistent pattern of law-making. It is a pattern showing that the Congress, through its own actions, transferred awesome magnitudes of power to the executive ostensibly to meet the problems of governing effectively in times of great crisis. Since 1933, Congress has passed or recodified over 470 significant statutes delegating to the President powers that had been the prerogative and responsibility of the Congress since the beginning of the Republic. Emergency powers laws are of such significance to civil liberties, to the operation of domestic and foreign commerce, and the general functioning of the U.S. Government, that, in microcosm, they reflect dominant trends in the political, economic, and judicial life in the United States.
Congress has in most important respects, except for the final action of floor debate and the formal passage of bills, permitted the Executive branch to draft and in large measure to "make the laws." This has occurred despite the Constitutional responsibility conferred on Congress by Article I, section 8 of the Constitution which states that it is Congress that "makes all Laws..." Bills drafted in the Executive branch were sent to Congress by the President and, in the case of the most significant laws that are on the books, were approved with only the most perfunctory committee review and virtually no consideration of their effect on civil liberties or the delicate structure of the U.S. Government of divided powers. See Senate Report 93-549, pg 6,7.
Germany, after the First World War, framed the Weimar Constitution, designed to secure her liberties in the Western tradition. However, the President of the Republic, without concurrence of the Reichstag, was empowered temporarily to suspend any or all individual rights if public safety and order were disturbed or endangered. This proved a temptation to every government, whatever its shade of opinion, and in 13 years suspension of rights was invoked on more than 250 occasions. Finally, Hitler persuaded President Von Hindenberg to suspend all such rights, and they were never restored.
Such power either has no beginning or it has no end. If it exists, it need submit to no legal restraint. I am not alarmed that it would plunge us straightway into dictatorship, but it is at least a step in that wrong direction. The Executive, except for recommendation and veto, has no legislative power. The executive action we have here originates in the individual will of the President and represents an exercise of authority without law. No one, perhaps not even the President, knows the limits of the power he may seek to exert in this instance and the parties affected cannot learn the limit of their rights.
With all its defects, delays and inconveniences, men have discovered no technique for long preserving free government except that the Executive be under the law, and that the law be made by parliamentary deliberations. Such institutions may be destined to pass away. But it is the duty of the Court to be last, not first, to give them up. Senate Report 93-549 pg. 14