Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oil Spills & Executive Powers

I recently commented on the following taken from a speech by President Obama:
"Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent third party.
I asked if such actions as these promised by the President fall within existing statutes and also the responsibilities of the courts? The point of the earlier comment was different than this. So, I want to explain my concerns about what the President said in his speech.

In order to determine who has a legitimate claim for damages against BP, and in order to determine the amount of such damages, I think it is the case that the President, or an independent third party picked by the President, will have to make decisions and take actions that are supposed to, constitutionally, be within the Judicial power of government.

Shouldn't it be a significant concern to ask, and answer, whether or not the President has exceeded his constitutionally granted Executive power to inform the CEO of BP that he must set aside $20 billion? If a President can decide what a legitimate claim is against BP, and if a President can decide how much compensation must be paid by BP, then what is the difference between the Judicial branch and the Executive branch of government?

1 comment:

Tim Canon said...

I share your concern, but would qualify it with the observation that this meeting was, at least in theory, "voluntary." I think it's probably going to be cheaper for BP, and the company probably thinks this will actually limit its liability.