Bill Murchison

To which Atty. Gen. Holder says, essentially, nyaaah, nyaaah, nyaaah! Holder, the government's chief legal officer, directs that the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages in federal settings such as prisons and courts; and will do so, what's more, even in states so backwards as to disagree with administration policy. "We're right; you're stupid" is the attorney general's position.

On terrorism, Congress deliberately used a broad brush in attempting to paint the portrait of a relatively safe America. No one who had supported terrorism could come here. Well, State and Homeland Security now think better of that formula. Now you're excused from suspicion if provided terrorism only "limited material support" or participated in "routine" social or commercial transactions. Whatever "routine" will mean for implementation purposes.

The government desires to help those whom Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont describes as deserving refuges and asylum-seekers, contrasted with box-cutter-carrying variety. Always there is a need to draw intelligent distinctions between classes of folk. But by executive edict? And with the world more unsettled, perhaps, than in the past 10 years? What of Congress' intentions meanwhile? Do the people's elected representatives write laws for the entertainment of the executive branch or do duly enacted, duly passed, duly signed statutes enjoy useful immunity from the inspection of presidents and their henchpersons?

The administration's capacity for celebration of its own insights won't wear off, we must assume, pending Republican re-capture of the Senate this fall or the White House in 2016. This means hard times ahead for the good old separation-of-powers, checks-and-balances doctrine we used to credit with helping keep America free. At least we can talk about it again -- understanding the consequences of treating it like a musty memory of the constitutional convention, a device as dated as wigs and quill pens.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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