from Charles C.W. Cooke in The National Review, Our Presidents Are Beginning to Act Like Kings

The Constitution of the United States, Hamburger contends, represented a conscious attempt to banish from this country’s political structure a host of the insidious tools upon which monarchs and emperors had historically relied: among them prerogative lawmaking, legislative enabling acts, suspending and dispensing powers, and the investment of legislative, judicial, and executive functions into one body. Alarmingly, Hamburger concludes, these features have gradually found their way back into the system — not because the Constitution has been overthrown or because Washington, D.C., has been occupied by an invading force, but because over time we have constructed an unwarranted “fourth branch” in addition to the original three, and we have allowed the executive branch to take advantage of it.

By “fourth branch,” Hamburger is referring to the vast caste of unelected government employees who staff the array of administrative agencies that have sprung up around the country since the start of the 20th century and, slowly but surely, enjoyed ever-increasing power over our lives. Far from reflecting a benign, novel, and necessary change in the detail of our self-government, Hamburger submits, these entities are returning us to the bad old days of rule by fiat. Unlike the Prussians and the French, he argues, Anglo-American societies have historically insisted that the liberties of free men be restricted only by the legislature and the courts, not by executive decree. By permitting a vast and unaccountable bureaucracy to grow in their midst, Americans have reimported into their system a virus against which their Constitution was supposed to protect them. Worst of all: They have done so without a care in the world.