Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Where Are the Lawyers When You Need Them?

When liberal media outlets talk about the president and “the rule of law,” you can bet they are talking about restrictions on executive power and the war on terror. But “the rule of law” refers to something far more fundamental than executive war powers. You really can’t get away from King John and those nobles at Runnymede. The core issue is whether the head of state is checked by a regime of law or whether he can, depending upon the needs and desires of the moment, do whatever the heck he wants.

So how’s Obama doing? Not great. Signing statements are back in fashion — a bad development for those who contend the Constitution provides just two options (veto or sign/enforce the law). He’s pursing cram down mortgages, allowing mortgage contracts to be abrogated on a case by case basis. And, of course, those AIG bonuses have become inconvenient and embarrassing so we’ll alter the tax code just for those unlucky employees. The sanctity of contracts are out; populist mobs are in.

And where is the Justice Department in all this? The rule of law is its specialty, right? Well, Eric Holder seems entirely unwilling to restrain or even question the political operatives in the executive branch. (Some of us anticipated he was the least likely person to stand up to the president.) Whatever the president and Nancy Pelosi want seems fine with Holder.

It is unfortunate that Democrats in Congress (with the exception of a few stalwarts like Robert Byrd) are mute in the face of an executive who seems intent on pushing the envelope. Only when George Bush is “shredding the Constitution” are they moved to complain. So the minority party is largely alone in complaining about these sorts of things. The Democrats may regret their new loose attitude towards the law. For the law may come in handy some day. But by then it won’t quite be what it used to be.


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.