June 27, 2012 2 Comments
The Obama administration won a partial victory in the Arizona immigration case decided on Monday. They were also defeated on the major point of the legislation. Arizona law enforcement can now ask people they arrest or question whether they’re here illegally. The administration’s response to this defeat has been disturbing. They’ve decided not to respond to any Arizona police agency which tells them they have an illegal. In short the Obama administration lost, so they’re taking their toys and going home. Childish perhaps but it’s the latest in a long line of brazenly lawless actions. We Americans need to decide whether we want to be a nation of laws or a nation of an imperial President.
It’s the President’s job under the Constitution to enforce the laws passed by Congress and signed by the President. The Constitution doesn’t allow the President to pick and choose which laws passed and signed by previous governments he will enforce. It also doesn’t permit the President to write new laws on his own. In just the past couple of weeks we’ve seen the President brazenly write new immigration law, creating a whole new class of immigrant worker. All of this was contained in the Dream Act, which Obama wasn’t able to get through Congress even when his party held a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. Now Obama outright refuses to enforce immigration law as written, refusing to work with Arizona to arrest and deport people here illegally.
This is hardly the first time Obama has refused to enforce the law. The President has refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. Eric Holder refuses to acknowledge a Supreme Court ruling that explicitly allows states to require picture ID to vote. Holder is likely going to be held in Contempt of Congress this week for refusing to hand over documents in the Fast and Furious case. Obama is claiming executive privilege when none exists. The list goes on and on, we have a very lawless administration.
Obama’s refusal to enforce immigration law has nothing to do with lack of funding, which has long been the excuse for not enforcing such laws. His refusal has everything to do with the fact that he lost at the Supreme Court. Likewise, he couldn’t get what he wanted on immigration from Congress so he unilaterally wrote the law himself. The Constitutional law professor apparently doesn’t like separation of powers. He also doesn’t like enforcing laws he doesn’t like, nor does he like Supreme Court rulings that don’t come down in his favor. If Obamacare is ruled unconstitutional tomorrow, would it surprise anyone if Obama decides to unilaterally declare the mandate law?
Let’s say a Republican President was unable to get a tax cut through the Congress. Rather than enforcing the law as written, the GOP President declared that the IRS would no longer be collecting said tax and no one would be penalized for not paying it. This would be a brazen disregard for existing law, it would likely result in impeachment and rightfully so. It’s the President’s job to enforce the law. Let’s say a state instituted tougher laws against bank robbers (bank robbery is a Federal crime) and a Republican President didn’t like the tougher laws and challenged them but lost at the Supreme Court. If that President then refused to work with the state to prosecute bank robbers, the public would be outraged and rightfully so.
These examples unfortunately are exactly what Obama is doing right now with immigration and the Arizona law. Immigration isn’t even the issue here, we can disagree on which policy on immigration is right or wrong. The issue here is what the law is and whether its being enforced by the President. The same is true of the Defense of Marriage Act. We can disagree on whether the law is a good thing or not but that’s not the issue. The issue is that it’s the law and the President is refusing to enforce or defend it. We can disagree over whether picture ID should be required for voting. But the Supreme Court has ruled it Constitutional in an opinion penned by the most liberal Justice, Stephen Breyer.
What Americans need to ask themselves is whether we want to be a nation of laws, where Congress passes them, a President signs them and whoever serves as President enforces them or we want to have an imperial President who picks and chooses which laws he wants to enforce. Do we want legal certainty when we elect a President or do we want uncertainty? If we want legal certainty, meaning we want to know that the laws on the books will be enforced, then we must reject the imperial actions of Obama. If we want the President to pick and choose based on his personal whims, opinions or based on which lobbyist or voting bloc offers the most, then we must support Obama. But in doing that we must recognize that we are creating legal uncertainty and we’re bringing down the foundation of our nation. We have always been a nation of laws, Obama is fundamentally changing this. Did Obama’s voters really bargain for this in 2008?