Panel Finds No Constitutional Problems With Appointment of Czars

Conservatives have made a lot of noise about the appointment of czar in the Obama administration–often with numerous factual errors in their attacks. Some members of both parties are concerned about the potential loss of power. A panel of constitutional experts was asked to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution. They found no problems with the appointment of czars:

Called together by Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.), who had written to Obama asking for more information about the czars, the panel concluded that Obama had the right to appoint independent advisors. The experts said the principle had been established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“The president’s personal staff are independently responsible only to the president — and in the end he is the only czar that is,” said Bradley H. Patterson, a presidential scholar. “And he is accountable to the American electorate.”

John Harrison, a University of Virginia law professor, compared the czars to the position of White House chief of staff, saying both hold great influence and can speak for the president, but their legal powers are limited.

Their “practical authority . . . is not legal authority, and as long as the distinction is rigorously maintained there will be no legal problem,” Harrison said in his written testimony.

It would be easier to criticize the appointment of czars, who do not require confirmation by Congress, if the Republicans were not playing political games in blocking some of Obama’s appointees. It is almost as if they want to cripple the Obama administration and then come back and call it a failure. That’s sort of similar to how they campaigned by proclaiming the government is too incompetent to do anything, and then repeatedly demonstrated this while in power.

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