On March 16, President Obama without public notice unilaterally assumed dictatorial power over the entire country, issuing an Executive Order (“Executive Order—National Defense Resources Preparedness”) that would permit him in times of peace or war, in his sole discretion, to control all of the nation’s industry and resources for “purposes of national defense.”
Under Article I, Section 9, Clause 2, Congress has the exclusive power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus (the right of one to be released by a court from military or police custody) in “cases of rebellion or invasion” when “the public safety may require it.” Although not synonymous with martial law, which the Constitution never mentions by name, it is nevertheless clear that the Founding Fathers did not intend the President either to declare a state of war or to act independent of Congress to suspend the writ. Moreover, there is no executive power to impose blanket regulations over the economy independent of Congress, even in times of war. In this Executive Order, President Obama assumes that extraordinary power beyond the limits of the Constitution. Indeed, so sweeping are the areas of control, that there is no substantive difference between the powers he has assumed and those of a dictator.
Under the March 16 Executive Order, the President invokes a 1950 Act of Congress, the Defense Production Act, as a basis for asserting extraordinary control over the entire economy in service to the national defense needs of the United States. In effect, President Obama has unilaterally expanded the authority of Commander-in-Chief to include not only command of the military but also to command all private parties and resources in support of the military and objectives of his administration.
The powers assumed are vast, comparable to those exercised by dictators. Part II of the Order includes the following section, which delegates to the various secretaries of the administration the power to supplant private contracts with federal controls over every part of the economy.