By Jon Dougherty

In a lengthy tweet storm, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) laid out his case as to why he believes that POTUS Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border was not just inappropriate but unconstitutional as well.

He begins:

“A thread on national emergencies and our Constitution:

Congress makes laws.
The president executes laws.
The Supreme Court decides cases.

This is our constitutional system.

Congress cannot delegate legislative powers to the president by statute.”

“Going back to the Framers of the Constitution, Americans have recognized the president’s inherent power as chief executive to act swiftly in an emergency, especially a sudden attack on the United States. But such power exists only so long as Congress has no opportunity to act,” he continued.

“Over the years, Congress has passed laws to create an orderly process for receding the president’s inherent emergency power as an emergency subsides—the War Powers Resolution and the National Emergencies Act are two examples.”

“Laws like the War Powers Resolution and the National Emergencies Act are not—and, under our Constitution, cannot be—grants of legislative powers to the president. They were adopted to transition authority back to Congress when unilateral executive action is no longer appropriate,” Amash continues.

“Congress can make no law permitting the president to assume permanent legislative powers, even in a single area, simply by his declaring an emergency. The president may act quasi-legislatively only in an actual emergency—when Congress has no time to act—and then only temporarily.”

Amash goes onto say that Congress can override a presidential declaration but that arrangement ‘turns on its head’ the framers’ intent that references the first tweet: Congress makes laws and presidents carry them out.

Fine. No argument there.

But Congress passed the National Emergency Act in 1976 and the War Powers Resolution in 1973, and both of these legislative acts have been utilized often by subsequent presidents over the years. And during those occasions, Congress was alternately led by Democrats and Republicans.

Yet in 40 years’ time, the Legislative Branch has never made any serious effort to reverse these pieces of legislation nor curb a president’s ability to utilize the authorities granted under them. There have been rumblings back and forth, especially regarding the War Powers Resolution — which appears to be a direct surrendering of Congress’ exclusive constitutional authority to declare war — but again, subsequent congresses for decades have made no serious effort to reverse or repeal these granted powers.

As to Amash’s point that Congress has no authority to delegate its powers, that’s a constitutional question yet to be answered, obviously — insofar as the question pertains to the legislation he references.

Over the course of 40-plus years, and especially as we became a much more litigious society, these laws would have come under serious assault in federal court and, had the alleged transfer of constitutional authorities been deemed unconstitutional acts, would have been overturned.

But they weren’t.

Only now when POTUS Trump utilizes his authority granted under the National Emergency Act for a declaration not politically popular with many members of Congress is there pushback. Funny how Amash only finds a constitutional problem with a duly-passed law when he disagrees with the president.

As to the congressman’s claim that such declarations are only appropriate for as long as Congress cannot act, we published a list of current declared national emergencies on Friday. There are 31 of them, and the longest one enacted after the 1976 law passed was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 in response to a crisis that ended the following year.

Is Amash seriously saying that Congress has had no time to act on declared national emergencies from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and earlier in the 2000s? Because if he is, that’s ludicrous.

And let’s examine the nature of some of those declared emergencies.

There is one signed by Bill Clinton in October 1995 “Blocking Assets and Prohibiting Transactions with Significant Narcotics Traffickers Centered in Colombia followed increased reports of drug cartels laundering money through American companies.” The Colombian drug problem is an American problem, no doubt. But if Colombia’s drug production and exportation is an American national emergency, why isn’t Mexican drug production and exportation on our border an American national emergency?

How about this one signed by George W. Bush in June 2001: “The National Emergency With Respect to Blocking Property of Persons Who Threaten International Stabilization Efforts in the Western Balkans,” which “put economic and other sanctions on individuals and countries aiding Albanian insurgents in Macedonia?” This is an American national emergency? Still? How?

Or this Bush declaration from May 2003: “The National Emergency With Respect to Protecting the Development Fund for Iraq and Certain Other Property in Which Iraq has an Interest.” How is this an American national emergency — property in which Iraq has an ‘interest?’

Or this gem from 2006: “The National Emergency With Respect to Blocking Property of Certain Persons Undermining Democratic Processes or Institutions in Belarus,” which followed allegations of fraud in the Belarus presidential election. Fraud in Belarus’ general election is a declared American national emergency that has been renewed every year since Bush issued it.

Here’s one of several Obama issued that’s still in effect from February 2011: “The National Emergency With Respect to Blocking Property and Prohibiting Certain Transactions Related to Libya froze the assets of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.” Gaddafi is dead; Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saw to that — when they ordered U.S. forces to bomb that country without a declaration of war.

The point is Democrats and more than a few Republicans remain mightily upset that POTUS Trump is still in office after two years of an obvious coup attempt, 95-percent negative media coverage, unprecedented legal challenges to his lawful executive orders, and congressional hostility even when ‘his’ party held a majority in both chambers of Congress.

If Amash’s constitutional conscience bothers him so much now, why didn’t it bother him enough then to push for repeal of presidential empowerment laws he says Congress had no authority to pass?

The Washington establishment is enamored with illegal immigration. Republican donors love it for cheap labor; Democrats for votes and because watering down our culture with millions of people who have no ties to America will eventually destroy America as founded.

The fact that our president has made illegal immigration his signature issue is unsettling to the power brokers in D.C. and beyond with corporate and political interests in the outcome. As we’ve seen since POTUS Trump took his first oath of office, the establishment has tried to thwart him time and again — legislatively, in the media, and in the courts.

And now Amash wants us to believe the president using powers he’s been given to declare an emergency along our crime-ridden, dangerous southwestern border is not only unconstitutional but unnecessary, even as national emergencies remain in effect that have no bearing whatsoever on the security of our country.

Shameful. And hypocritical.

Democrats opposing this president’s emergency declaration is nothing new. If POTUS Trump turned out to be Jesus Christ and he came back to deliver America from Satin’s clutches the Democrats would find some reason to oppose it (Jesus is a bigot, don’t you know?).

But having Republicans oppose the president’s legitimate efforts to protect our country and ensure the integrity of our borders is outrageous, especially when they are claiming to be doing it on behalf of the Constitution.

The president’s first duty is to protect America and Americans, Congressman Amash. As a self-proclaimed constitutional expert, you should know that, so why are you opposing him?

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