As I write this, Democrats in the House of Representatives are busy at work preparing to pass their bill for health care "reform". They already have the votes they need in the Senate, but as of this morning the House wasn't a lock. Even with a majority of Democrats in the House, enough of them were planning to vote Nay such that the vote might fail to pass. So Speaker Pelosi and other unnamed strategists schemed tooth and nail to win over enough the Nay Democrats to get a majority of Yea votes to pass the bill. Before the cameras, the Speaker appears mild and at times somewhat airheaded. When making the sausage behind closed doors, she's anything but. You don't earn the exalted position of Speaker of the House for being ineffective or wishy-washy.
The entire struggle by the Dems to get this abomination of legislation signed into law has been fraught with scheming, bribery, arm-twisting, and behind the scenes horse trading. I have much to say on those topics and their implications, but that's a tale for another post.
This morning the iron-fisted Speaker was desperate to win over enough Nay Democrats to clinch a victory to leap the next hurdle to get a bill on the president's desk for his signature. Democratic Representative from Michigan Bart Stupak had been holding out because of the bill's provisions that would allow federal dollars to fund abortions. This comes as no surprise, as Rep. Stupak is a Roman Catholic. His allegiance to his religion trumps his allegiance to his party. Like President Obama he also holds a J.D. These are the two lawyers mentioned in the headline.
Apparently Speaker Pelosi didn't have a way to twist Stupak's arm like she did with other recalcitrant Democrats so the "stick" was out and the "carrot" was the only way to get to him. So someone dreamed up a carrot. President Obama promised Stupak that he'd issue an executive order that would ban federal funding of abortions. Upon learning of that, Stupak was appeased and his Nay became a Yea.
Remember now that both of these men have doctorates in law, and both have studied the Constitution. The executive branch is limited in its powers to those granted in Section 2 of Article II of the Constitution, augmented by the authority to apply and enforce all statutes enacted by Congress. A president cannot make up his own laws; any executive order must be grounded in a statute by Congress.
Should this legislation become law (as of this moment it appears that it will), the statutes will permit federal funding of abortions. The president's promised executive order will consequently be unlawful, and as such subject to challenge in federal court. Should someone bring suit, the court must rule the order unlawful. Given the millions of pro-choice Americans and bright attorneys who could build a solid argument for their plaintiffs this shouldn't take long.
Had Representative Stupak grasped that, he'd not have caved. Obama and Pelosi blew smoke up his tailpipe and he fell for it.
President Obama was either as in the dark about executive orders as Rep. Stupak was, or he knew his order would be indefensible and was therefore complicit in conspiring to dupe Rep. Stupak.
Mr. Stupak failed to maintain his conviction as a Roman Catholic by falling for a ruse. And as a J.D. he should be ashamed of himself for doing so.