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Barack Obama’s Lawlessness

Both Charles Krauthammer and Ramesh Ponnuru have spoken about the lawlessness of the Obama administration. Examples include (but are not limited to) unilaterally delaying implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, issuing health-care edicts that undermine the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, making unconstitutional “recess appointments” to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, refusing to enforce current immigration laws related to illegal immigrants who were brought to America as children, and waving welfare work requirements.

This is all part of a pattern in which Mr. Obama enforces laws he likes and refuses to enforce (or unilaterally alters) laws he disagrees with. I suppose the temptation to act as a potentate is understandable; but it also happens to be illegal. The president, after all, has the constitutional duty to “take care that the Laws be faithfully executed” (see Article II, Section 3 for more).

One of the reasons there isn’t a firestorm of protest against the president’s contempt for the rule of law is that that apart from a few honorable exceptions, the press doesn’t care and therefore isn’t covering this story. Let’s just say that if the same kind of violations had been committed by presidents with the last names of oh, say, Bush or Reagan, you can be sure the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, Politico, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, NPR, and the major news networks would all be covering the story.

The problem here is that a dangerous precedent is being set by the president. To understand why, consider the words of Thomas More to Roper in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons:

And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you—where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast—man’s laws, not God’s—and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?    

Barack Obama is doing his part to cut down from coast to coast the laws he doesn’t much care for. He does so because he’s a progressive who believes the ends (advancing a liberal agenda) justifies the means (lawlessness). But unfortunately in the future the winds will come–and when they do, and when Americans cannot stand upright in them, it may dawn on some folks that our contempt for the rule of law was nurtured and flowered during the Obama era.


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