Our three branches of government are the executive, legislative and judicial as contained in the U.S. Constitution. They are both independent and interdependent in nature.
As part of the executive branch, the head of the IRS works for the Secretary of the Treasury, who in turn reports to the President. The IRS is not an independent agency, contrary to what President Obama says. And the Attorney General works directly for President Obama as well.
For a refresher, let's look at what the history of the separation of powers provisions and the Constitution have to do with the IRS targeting of conservatives and Justice Department's Associated Press investigation undermining freedom of the press, both of which are very much in the news today.
On February 6, 1788, when urging ratification of the nation's new Constitution in Federalist Paper No. 51, James Madison described why the separation of powers and system of checks and balances in the U.S. Constitution are vital to a self governing society of free people:
"Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices may be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is giovernment itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions."
Pursuant to our Constitution, it's time for the appropriate members of Congress to investigate fully what happened in both the IRS intimidation case and the AP freedom of the press case, respectively.
It's also time for less talk from President Obama and for him to remove the head of the IRS and the Attorney General, too.
Both agencies, under appropriate guidance from the President, should have asked the Court if they had the authority under the Constitution and applicable laws to spy on the conservatives and penetrate the records and listen to the phone calls of AP reporters.
That they didn't pursue this judicial route speaks loudly as to their motivations and understanding of the applicable laws.
So there you have it: the proper roles of the Executive, Legislative and Judical branches of our government have been clear since 1788.
Maybe we should ask those governing to start taking the Constitution seriously.
Maybe We the People should start taking the idea of limited government seriously as well.
That's my take.