There are serious consequences for failure to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. In 1974, the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives voted three articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. Article III charged Nixon with “failure to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Once the Nixon White House tapes were handed over, under order of the Supreme Court, Republicans and Democrats together demanded Nixon’s ouster. No one could deny that a two-year secret campaign of denial, diversion, and obstruction of justice had resulted in, at the very least, a failure to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Nixon was soon forced to resign.
No one is suggesting that Mr. Obama’s defiance of law will result in his defeat or in his impeachment. What we are suggesting is that he does grave harm to the power and legitimacy of his own high office by his contempt for law. As a former constitutional law professor, he should be the first to uphold the majesty of the law.
We appeal to President Obama: Be true to the Oath you swore on the Lincoln Bible.
You spoke before a cloud of witnesses. We urge you, Mr. President, to maintain respect for law. If you conscientiously disagree with the Defense of Marriage Act, then seek its repeal through proper legislative and judicial channels.
Of course, we will oppose that repeal. We believe that the laws of nature and of nature’s God, so powerfully invoked by our Declaration of Independence, support the civil right of marriage. True marriage is an institution that existed before the republic.
It will be a tragedy of historic proportions if this president, of all presidents, is the one to overturn the civil right of marriage. In 1866, thousands of freedmen and women walked to Tennessee. Many of them walked barefooted. Why? They desperately sought to have their slave marriages recognized in law. Those newly freed Americans understood the civil right of marriage better than do many constitutional law professors today. Let’s preserve marriage. And let’s take care that the laws that defend it be faithfully executed.