Imagine, if you will, that during the Bush Administration, conservative groups complained that they didn’t trust an incoming cabinet member to administer a program within his Department’s purview.Â Onstead of reassuring those groups that he had every confidence in his appointee to do his job without prejudice, the president (or his representative) told those groups not to worry as he would run that program out of the White House.
Imagine further that in accordance with its responsibility as spelled out in Article I of the Constitution, Congress passed a law giving that Department the authority to administer the program.Â Moving it to the White House would thus violate federal law.
You’d hear quite an outcry, wouldn’t you?
That’s exactly that scenario which played out last week as the White House “responding to minority groups’ concerns about [Commerce Secretary-designate Judd] Gregg’s commitment to funding the census, has decided to have the director of the Census Bureau report directly to the White House.”
Oh, well, not exactly, there was no media outcry.
At least three bloggers (one of whom a political reporter) seem to be more familiar with the constitution and federal law than the Obama White House staff.Â Midwesterner at samizdata citing Article I, Section 2 of the US Constitution, “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct,” has found that law.Â It gives the authority to conduct that enumeration to the Secretary of Commerce (via Instapundit).
Evil Monk at Righteous Rantings, citing the same statute, doesn’t “see a legal base for giving [White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel control of the Census.“Â Echoing both bloggers, Michael Barone thinks the White House Census Power Grab May Violate the Constitution:
Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution provides for an “actual enumeration” and a statute passed by Congress provides that the duties under this clause are to be performed by the secretary of commerce. Article I (as Joseph Biden didn’t know in debate) is about the legislative, not the executive branch.
So, with the White House possibly violating the constitution, you’d think this story would be leading the news. But, a few google news searches show that (as of post time), while some in the MSM had reported Republicans’ criticism of the White House power grab, the only MSM coverage of the possible constitutional violations was the inclusion of quotes from Republican officials (or from readers in the comments section).
As I was checking my lines for this post, I discovered that with the foresight which characterizes the Greek goddess to whom I have compared her, Jennifer Rubin (with a title provided by Glenn) addressed this theme before I did: IMAGINE IF Karl Rove had run the census.
UPDATE: Rich Noyes at Newsbusters asks and observes:
So will the networks get around to holding the Obama White House accountable to the Constitution and the requirements of a fair, non-political Census next year? I’ll bet they’d be all over the story if George W. Bush and Karl Rove were still in the White House.