- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 30, 2020

Enough with the executive orders already.

They’re killing the Constitution, destroying the rule of law, upsetting the already delicate balance among legislative, executive and judicial branches, and seriously setting the nation’s course down a path of political and cultural upheaval.

They’re turning the Constitution into a mockery.

They’re making the Constitution mean whatever the Democrats can get by with making it mean.

Yes, it’s true, Congress and the federal courts can curtail both presidents’ and governors’ powers to rule by executive order. So, too, lawmakers and senators at the state levels. But it’s rather rare that they do. It takes quite a political hot point to get lawmakers riled enough to push back on executive orders — particularly to the level bringing the fight to court.

That’s why today’s Federal Register, according to one Heritage Foundation report, now records almost 14,000 executive orders, issued from as far back as 1862. Those are only the officially numbered EOs; add in the unnumbered orders, as the American Presidency Project did, and the total may actually stand around 50,000.

That’s a whole lot of commanding that’s going on; that’s a whole lot of commandeering of what should be legislative domain.

Franklin Roosevelt’s been about the worst with the “I am zee law” way of governing that is inherent in the issuance of executive orders, with a total of 3,721 — five of which were actually overturned by the Supreme Court. Barack Obama, by comparison, issued 276. And Trump, meanwhile, after overturning several of Obama’s, issued 23 executive orders of his own in 2020 alone; another 44 in 2019; another 37 in 2018; and 55 in his first year in office, in 2017.

But it’s the governors gone mad on COVID-19 powers who are truly destroying America right now.

Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, just issued an executive order requiring all Virginians to don face masks before entering any places of business and public business — despite numbers showing the spread of the coronavirus was slowing. Despite data indicating the coronavirus “curves” all the health bureaucrats liked to point to these past few weeks were well on their way to flattening.

Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, just issued an executive order allowing for the “use of absentee ballots to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission during [the] August 11, 2020, primary” in Connecticut — despite the fact he also recently gave restaurants, retail stores, business offices, museums and zoos and places of recreation the go-ahead to reopen, albeit with some restrictions. As if these same restrictions couldn’t be imposed at the voting polls?

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, just signed an executive order creating new community coronavirus testing sites across the state and opening the doors to mass, widespread, coerced testing of citizens.

From the order, No. 2020-104: “To help prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and provide protections against the dangers to this state posed by the COVID-19 emergency, it is reasonable and necessary to enable a broader range of qualified medical professionals to order COVID-19 tests and to encourage the establishment of community testing locations by reducing barriers to siting and staffing such test sites.”

How supportive of government to set up medical shop in a community near you — the easier to set the stage for contact tracing, and all its Big Government, Big Tech tracking and surveillance features.

That’s just a taste of the many ways governors are running solo with their rules right now. From California to New York, it’s more of the same.

These are perilous times for a nation of free people.

Private business has been put in a chokehold, told to abide governors’ demands or face fines and loss of licenses. Individuals, too — individual rights have become only those government deems worthy of bestowing.

The fate of America as a free society hangs in precipitous executive order balance.

America, when COVID-19 has passed — if COVID-19 passes without utterly destroying the country — must take a look at executive orders and decide: Never again.

Time to clarify, codify and control the ability of the executive to run roughshod over the Constitution. Even in times of national emergency, the rights of the individual, the authorities of the single citizen, must be maintained.

Here in America, remember: It’s God-given, not government granted.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

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