By Benjamin Goad - 05/07/14 05:29 PM EDT
The Obama administration has systematically flouted federal statute in pursuit of its policy goals, Sen. Ted Cruz said Wednesday, accusing the president of unprecedented executive overreach.
The Texas Republican and former state solicitor general sought to show off his legal chops in a wide-ranging speech chronicling "abuse of power" on Benghazi, Immigration and the president’s disputed recess appointments, among myriad other issues.
"We have never seen a president disregard the law so brazenly, in so many contexts, with so little legal justification,” Cruz told reporters after the address to the Federalist Society’s annual conference in Washington.
Cruz, who is said to be angling for a 2016 presidential run, released a report containing a laundry list of instances of alleged executive overreach. The report is the fourth detailing alleged abuses of power that has been issued by Cruz’s office, and consolidates all of the so-called “abuses of power” into a 76-point list.
“I actually think the breadth of the lawlessness in the aggregate is all the more disturbing,” he said.
President Obama has made no bones about his aggressive use of executive authority, declaring after the 2010 elections, “Where Congress won’t act, I will” and dubbing 2014 as his “year of action.”
The president and his administration argue that it has no choice but to sidestep a Congress mired in legislative gridlock.
But Cruz said Obama has gone too far.
On Benghazi, Cruz accused the Obama administration of falsely portraying the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Diplomatic Mission as a spontaneous protest related to an anti-Muslim YouTube video, and illegally revealing the existence of sealed indictments in the ensuing investigation.
The report lists ten items related to the Affordable Care Act alone, contending the administration exceeded its executive authority by delaying provisions and extending deadlines written into the statute.
On immigration, he took aim at the administration’s decision to halt deportations of certain illegal immigrants through its “deferred action” program.
“You can have a debate about what should the immigration laws be. We’re having those debates. That’s what the Democratic process is set up to do,” Cruz said. “It’s qualitatively different when the executive says ‘never mind Article 2, which gives the president the duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’”
Cruz described a “pattern of lawlessness” that has extended to Obama’s bold use of recess appointment powers.
The Supreme Court is now weighing the constitutionality of a trio of appointments the president made to the National Labor Relations Board in 2012, while the Senate was in a “pro-forma” session.
The White House argues that the sessions, where more than a handful of senators are rarely present, do not stop the president from using his authority to appoint judges and fill important federal vacancies.
The federal courts have disagreed twice, and several justices at the Supreme Court expressed skepticism of the administration's position during arguments in the case earlier this year.
“The rest of us don’t have the ability to disregard the courts, but somehow this administration has the idea they do,” Cruz said during his address to a packed room at the Mayflower Hotel.
Afterward, he insisted that he would reserve equally fierce criticism for a Republican president who leaned so heavily on the power of his office.
But Cruz dodged questions about whether he would seek the position himself.
“Regardless of who the president is, he or she should be governed by rule of law,” he said.