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The Constitution and Rule of Law – When It Suits Them

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Upon delivering two articles of impeachment to the Senate on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that Mr. Trump was guilty of “an assault on the Constitution of the United States.”


Wow. That was some phone call he made to Ukraine’s president. Who knew that, if unaddressed, it would unravel the nation’s founding document?

In any case, Mrs. Pelosi’s newfound, if selective, respect for the Constitution is refreshing. 

In 2010, when asked what part of the Constitution authorized the passage of Obamacare, Mrs. Pelosi replied: “Are you serious? Are you serious?” This implied to many that she didn’t think the Constitution was even a speed bump for the Democrats’ scheme to nationalize the health care industry.

But, suddenly, the Constitution is important. Except when it isn’t. 

Over the past few years, federal district judges, most appointed by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, have issued more than 30 nationwide injunctions, going far beyond their constitutionally designated duty. 

The latest came on Wednesday, when U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte, a Clinton appointee in Maryland, issued a nationwide injunction halting a Trump administration policy allowing states and localities to opt out of a refugee resettlement program. 

The judge wrote that the policy was “in the face of clear statutory text and structure, purpose, congressional intent, executive practice, judicial holdings and constitutional doctrine to the contrary.”

Somehow, these judges and other Democrats don’t seem to mind that hundreds of Democrat-run “sanctuary cities” openly refuse to work with federal immigration agencies, despite U.S. code requiring cooperation.  


By contrast, in Virginia, Democrat Attorney General Mark Herring in December issued an advisory opinion that more than 20 communities whose officials have voted to become Second Amendment “sanctuaries” in the face of expected gun-grabbing by the newly elected Democrat legislative majority have no legal right to do so. 

Mr. Herring invoked the state’s Dillon Rule, which says that communities must abide by state law unless granted exceptions by the General Assembly. 

Well, OK, but somehow, he doesn’t seem to mind that many Virginia jurisdictions have become “sanctuary” cities for illegal immigrants.

The issue came to a head last October, when a Fairfax County policer officer turned an illegal immigrant in a car accident over to federal immigration officials after a warrant popped up indicating the man had skipped a deportation hearing. Fairfax, which has declared itself a “sanctuary” county, actually suspended the officer until a public outcry led to his reinstatement.   

The stark reality is that liberals like Mr. Herring enforce only the laws they like. Days after taking office in 2014, he refused to defend the state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage.  Like Obama’s Attorney General, Eric H. Holder Jr., who not only refused to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act but actually filed in court against it, Mr. Herring filed a brief in federal court against the law he was supposed to defend. 


All of this is part of a lawless pattern whereby citizens’ votes and legislators’ actions are pretty much nullified when it suits leftist politicians and judges. 

In January 2019, U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone, a 2014 Obama appointee, struck down a Trump administration rule allowing religious employers not to be forced to provide free birth control to employees. Going beyond Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the two states that had sued, she filed a nationwide injunction.  

In 176 years since the founding of the United States, no district judge had issued a national injunction until 1963, and only an average of 1.5 such injunctions until Barack Obama took office.  Even then, the average climbed only to 2.5 injunctions yearly until Mr. Trump took office. 

Then, the injunction machine kicked in like a slot machine gone berserk.  In his first year in office, Mr. Trump faced 20 national injunctions on such issues as immigration, health care and transgender activism. Now it’s past 30. 

For perspective, consider that the number of anti-Trump injunctions exceeds the combined total for the first 42 of 45 presidents in U.S. history. Beth Williams, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, noted this at a Heritage Foundation forum last February.

Of course, lawless judges can do a lot of damage in individual states, too. 


On Dec. 31, Obama appointee U.S. District Judge Loretta Copeland Biggs in North Carolina struck down the state’s voter-approved voter ID law, calling it racist. Unless her ruling is overturned on appeal, this key battleground state will not have a crucial election integrity safeguard in place in November, which is the whole point. 

Voter ID laws have been attacked all over the country by leftist groups aided by radical lawyers.

Somehow, it’s “racist” to require voters to show an ID since minorities couldn’t possibly figure out how to get one in order to drive, cash a check, open an account, board a plane, buy beer or enter secure courthouses. 

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