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A Legacy of Lawlessness

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

From the first days that Barack Obama declared his candidacy, we were told how brilliant he was, how this Harvard trained lawyer, who had run the law review, outshone his peers, and taught constitutional law, was intellectually superior to the other presidential aspirants. Surely he was more attuned to sophisticated legal nuances and more dedicated to the rule of law than the outgoing occupant, who symbolized all that was wrong with the “imperial presidency.”


But back in 2008, behind the curtain of “hope and change,” a different agenda was being devised in secret. Channeling Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro, Obama’s agenda would brook no dissent, respect no constitutional restraint or congressional input, and offer as its justification the flimsiest of rationales: we can’t wait. Back in 2008, we had no idea what lawlessness would be ushered in by this self-proclaimed legal expert, and just how transformative (and destructive) his administration would be.

Six years on, we now know the truth: no president has shown a greater disrespect for the rule of law and our entire legal architecture than this one.

Richard Nixon never went this far.

President Obama does not respect how laws are made. See his abuse of the congressional process to pass Obamacare, and his failure to secure a single Republican vote. Likewise, his blatant disregard for the Senate’s role in approving international accords was shown last week, when his party prevented the Senate from even voting on the merits of the Iran agreement. As with Obamacare, he failed to garner a single Republican vote.

Worse, the president first sought UN approval of the Iran – don’t call it a treaty, which would require a 2/3 vote to pass the Senate – deal before seeking Congressional approval. His chief negotiator Wendy Sherman told reporters: “It would have been a little difficult when all of the [countries negotiating with Iran] wanted to go to the United Nations to get an endorsement of this, since it is a product of the United Nations process, for us to say, 'Well, excuse me, the world, you should wait for the United States Congress.'"


In addition, abdicating the very duty inherent in his role as chief executive, President Obama has made no effort to execute existing laws. Instead, he rejects the laws he does not like, and, like a third world dictator, re-writes the laws as he wished them to be or has his cronies actively litigate or regulate against them. See his decision to refuse to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act; see also in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision recognizing Second Amendment rights in Heller, the DEA’s failed attempt to ban bullets used by hunting and sporting enthusiasts while claiming to be protecting police officers.

Perhaps President Obama’s most brazen violation of the law was his unilateral executive action on immigration, and his imposition of the illegal “deferred action” program, which rewards unlawfully present minors and their parents with legal status and financial benefits. No president has ever attempted to alter the legal status of millions of people, and simultaneously provide them benefits – Congress’ jobs – with the stroke of his pen. For this reason, U.S. District Court judge Andrew Hanen put a stop to the president’s unilateral immigration overhaul and threatened to hold the president’s attorneys in contempt.

Beyond rejecting existing laws, President Obama does not respect how appointments are made. See his June 2012 attempted recess appointment of his political cronies to the National Labor Relations Board when the Senate was not in recess, a move which earned a unanimous rejection by the Supreme Court (Noel Canning v. NLRB). See also his effort to pack the District of Columbia appeals court with friendly judges after blowing up time honored Senate rules governing judicial nominations. Even FDR abandoned a similar court-packing stunt, but to paraphrase another Democrat, President Obama is no FDR.


Perhaps worst of all, President Obama shows no respect for the First Amendment rights of his political opponents and his cronies use the resources of the federal government to attack them. See how his IRS, in the lead up to his 2012 re-election campaign, targeted for IRS harassment citizens who criticized this man, and then attempted to destroy the evidence of their crimes. We’re talking about you, Lois Lerner.

There are many more examples we could cite (the EPA, Kim Davis, Eric Holder, the EEOC), but these suffice to make the point. The Obama Presidency has done more damage to the rule of law and the balance of power between the presidency and the Congress than any president in history. Worse, he has – potentially to an irrevocable extent – expanded the size, scope and brazenness of the executive, to the detriment of all Americans, who rely on the executive branch to enforce existing laws, not create new ones.

By his lawlessness, President Obama has also made the courts the final arbiter of our nation’s most contentious issues, a role they are not empowered or equipped to fulfill. A nation of laws and legal structures, erected and fine-tuned over two centuries, simply cannot abide 8 more years of this. Americans will never have a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” as long as its people are ruled by a tyrannical executive enabled by unaccountable bureaucracies and unelected federal judges. The tools for America’s reclamation are at the peoples’ disposal. They must use them next November.


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