Last Thursday, the White House raised the GOP's hackles when an Obama staffer told CQ Politics that the new Director of the Census Bureau would report directly to the White House, constitutional provisions that the director report to the Commerce Secretary notwithstanding.
The White House quickly backpedaled, saying instead that the new director would "work closely" with White House staff.
The Obama administration acknowledged Thursday that the as-yet-unnamed Census Bureau director will have a direct line to the White House but sought to define the relationship as one in which the director would "work closely with" rather than report to President Obama's senior staff.Yeah, well I "work closely" with my boss, too, but I still damned well better do what he says. At Samizdata, they're calling this power grab clearly illegal:
After black and Hispanic leaders raised concerns over Commerce Secretary-nominee Judd Gregg's commitment to core functions of the Census Bureau, a senior White House official told CQ on Wednesday that the director would report directly to the White House.
That brought fire Thursday from Republicans, who accused the White House of attempting to gain advantage in the politically delicate process of counting Americans and of violating the law by circumventing the Commerce secretary. The decennial census is used to determine the apportionment of congressional districts among the states and federal funding for numerous programs.
From reading through Title 13, Chapter 1 it appears obvious to me that the POTUS has no role in the census whatsoever beyond, with Senate approval, selecting the Secretary of Commerce and, also with Senate approval, selecting the Director of the Census who "shall perform such duties as may be imposed upon him by law, regulations, or orders of the Secretary." Hhmmm... No president mentioned.This is seriously dangerous stuff, and not surprising in the least. Obama isn't "settling into office" so much as he's "consolidating power" in the worst Chicago tradition.
The Secretary of Commerce is the only authority the law recognizes. Since as commenter Laird points out, the Constitution did not place the census function in Article II - the Executive branch but in Article I - the Legislative branch, it is not at all within the President's reach unless the legislature places it there.
[ ... ]
The Secretary of Commerce does not even report his findings to the President, but rather is instructed to 'publish' them. It looks quite clear to me that any incursion by the White House after those two Senate approved appointments is clearly against the law.
Thanks to AoS for the Samizdata link.