U.S. Worst Executive Actions

U.S. Worst Executive Actions

Worst Executive ActionsThere’s been a lot of hoopla the last few weeks over President Obama’s use of Executive Orders and their legality. I’ve heard terms like “unprecedented” and “unconstitutional” and “abuse of power” mentioned by members of our Congress and I find myself shaking my head. The fact is: It is legal for a president to issue an Executive Order. An Executive Order grants the President the right to make major decisions, and even laws, without the consent of Congress. Don’t like it? Blame the Founding Fathers. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison all made Executive Orders. Not all of them were something you might agree with. Some of them were down and outright criminal, but they are legal, NOT impeachable, and are the law of the land. Here are some of the worst in history (and no, your gun laws aren’t in this list). As a side note, President Obama has not had the most Executive Orders ever issued. He’s not even close and, in fact, he’s made the LEAST Executive Orders of any President in the past 100 years. He certainly has not made the worst executive actions!



Habeas Corpus is the legal action in which a person under arrest has to be brought before a judge or into court. This is done to make sure you don’t have some guy accused of something just sitting around in jail because the police don’t like the way he looks. Sounds fair, right? The English thought so, too, because the Founding Fathers stole the idea from them. However, that hasn’t stopped Presidents from saying “sorry, I’m changing that law and Congress can’t do anything about it.” The first person to do this was Abraham Lincoln. In Executive Order No. 1, Lincoln took habeas corpus out of the picture and started arresting people on suspect of treason. If you were suspected of spying or of any treasonous act, you could be placed in jail without trial and released after the President or Secretary of War decided you were free to go. How much does that suck? Ask Dr. Samuel Mudd. He was arrested for trying to help an injured John Wilkes Booth. He wasn’t part of the assassination plot at all. Lincoln isn’t the only President to get away with this. Have you heard of Guantanamo Bay? President George W. Bush set up this little island paradise with an Executive Order. Incidentally, Executive Orders don’t always work. President Obama has issued three orders to close Gitmo, but has been blocked by Congress on them.




What would you do if suddenly one day the President of the United States said, “You can no longer own any gold. Turn it in and we’ll pay you $20.67 per ounce on it.” You might have some choice words, right? Maybe even get angry? Well, that’s exactly what happened when Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6102 in 1933. No one in the United States was allowed to hoard any more gold and it was illegal to do so. You couldn’t own a gold coin, bullion, or certificate. You had to turn it into the government for a little over $20 and ounce. And he got away with this! In fact, you couldn’t own a gold coin again until it was repealed in 1977! So why did Roosevelt do this? Part of the reason was to fix the price of gold. As soon as the government paid everyone off, they raised to price of gold to $33 an ounce, increasing the value by more than 50%. Another reason was to stop people from sending US gold to enemies of the country. There were a lot of Nazi supporters in the United States at the time (George W. Bush’s grandfather, Prescott was one of them. So was Henry Ford.). How would you feel if this happened today?




President Roosevelt was good for making the worst executive actions. After America was attacked by the Japanese, there was a hysteria in the United States about Japanese spies. It is similar to the “Islamaphobia” that has swept the United States today. However, in 1942, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which relocated United States citizens of Japanese origin into internment and relocation camps. During that year, about (we don’t have exact numbers) 110,000 AMERICAN CITIZENS were forced to give up their homes, jobs, businesses, and properties and moved into these prison camps “for their own safety” from the American people. In reality, this was done because of mass hysteria. That didn’t stop the government from sending Japanese-Americans off to war, though. Of course, they had to fight in Europe where they wouldn’t have the temptation of switching sides. These people, among them Star Trek veteran, George Takei, lost their freedoms and civil rights until 1946. When they were released, most of them were destitute. It wasn’t until 1980 that President Jimmy Carter created a committee to rectify this situation. It was deemed that these people were denied of their basic civil rights and their was no evidence of treasonous behavior. By 1988, Ronald Reagan finally gave an apology and paid the survivors $20,000 each for the detention.




In 1952, there was a nationwide steel mill strike. The “evil” United Steelworkers of America walked out of U.S. Steel and nine other steel makers. President Harry Truman was given the rights, by Congress, to requisition the use of all industries needed in defense of the United States against the Communists. During this time in American history, everyone was afraid that the communists were trying to take over the United States. This is also the time period of the McCarthy hearings and the words of “Under God” being added to the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” being put on our money. With all of the furor going on, President Truman decided that these strikes were a danger to the United States defense and issued Executive Order 10161. This was also called the Economic Stabilization Act which said, “This is how much you can be paid for your work and this is how much things will cost you.” That sounds full of good ol’ American free enterprise, doesn’t it? One of the things Truman stated was that in order to get quality work, the steel mills had to stop being jerks and pay their employees more money. That didn’t go over too well, so he issued an Executive Order against the Steel Mills. The decree basically stated: “Either stop these strikes and give your workers more money or your business belongs to the government.” By the way, this is the only Executive Order (up until this time) that was brought in front of the Supreme Court and struck down. The Supreme Court didn’t think it was right, either, and stood up for big business. The thing is that even overstepping your legal rights, Truman wasn’t impeached for doing this.




Remember this gem from 2001? It’s Executive Order 13224 and it was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush. It was designed out of mass fear mongering and aimed at U.S. Individuals and Businesses. It basically gives the government the right to cease you or your business should they think you are a terrorist. This includes your land and other property. Don’t worry, though. If you are suspected of something other than terrorism, it’s ok. They can do the same thing to you, too. Especially if you are a drug kingpin…or whatever. It also requires you to report to your local authorities anything that looks suspicious so they can check it out and gives the government the right to tap into your private phone and computer without a search warrant…just in case your a terrorist. Included in this order was all of the fun searches at the airports and so on that we now expect in the every day world of post-911.


If you like this article on the Worst Executive Actions, you might enjoy Sins of Our Fathers: Five U.S. Atrocities.