Of all the troubling aspects of the Obama presidency, none is more dangerous than the President’s persistent pattern of lawlessness, his willingness to disregard the written law and instead enforce his own policies via executive orders.
The President’s taste for unilateral action to circumvent Congress should concern every citizen, regardless of party or ideology. The great 18th-century political philosopher Montesquieu observed: “There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or body of magistrates.” America’s Founding Fathers took this warning to heart, and we should too.
Rule of law doesn’t simply mean that society has laws; dictatorships are often characterized by an abundance of laws. Rather, rule of law means that we are a nation ruled by laws, not men. No one—and especially not the president—is above the law. For that reason, the U.S. Constitution imposes on every president the express duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
Rather than honor this duty, President Obama has openly defied it by repeatedly suspending, delaying, and waiving portions of the laws that he is charged to enforce. When President Obama disagreed with federal immigration laws, he instructed the Justice Department to cease enforcing the laws.
He did the same thing with federal welfare law, drug laws, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. In the more than two centuries of our nation’s history, there is simply no precedent for the White House wantonly ignoring federal laws and asking others to do the same.
For all those who are silent now: What would they think of a Republican president who announced that he was going to ignore the law, or unilaterally change the law? Imagine a future president setting aside environmental laws, or tax laws, or labor laws, or tort laws with which he or she disagreed.
That would be wrong—and it is the Obama precedent that is opening the door for future lawlessness. As Montesquieu knew, an imperial presidency threatens the liberty of every citizen. Because when a president can pick and choose which laws to follow and which to ignore, he is no longer a president.
1. Disregarded 1996 welfare reform law in granting broad work waivers for work requirements of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
5. Extended federal marriage benefits by recognizing, under federal law, same-sex marriages created in a state that allows same-sex marriage even if the couple is living in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.
9. Illegally refused to act on Yucca Mountain’s application to become a nuclear waste repository.
13. Killed four Americans overseas in counterterrorism operations without judicial process.
19. Illegally granted businesses a waiver from Obamacare’s employer mandate. Twice.
23. Illegally required people to violate their faith via the Obamacare contraception mandate.
25. Ordered Boeing to fire 1,000 employees in South Carolina and shut down a new factory because it was non-union.
29. Had SWAT teams raid a Gibson guitar factory and seize property, on the purported basis that Gibson had broken India’s environmental laws—but no charges were filed.
Executive Nominees and Personnel
31. Made illegal “recess” appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board when Congress wasn’t in recess. Ignored the rulings of three federal courts of appeals that held those nominations unconstitutional.
Free Speech and Privacy
39. Targeted Fox News reporter James Rosen by falsely labeling him a possible “co-conspirator” in a criminal investigation of a new leak.
Other Lawless Acts
42. Aided drug cartels instead of enforcing immigration laws—as found by a federal judge. Border Patrol agents, multiple times, knowingly helped smuggle illegal immigrant children into the U.S.; “the DHS is encouraging parents to seriously jeopardize the safety of their children.”
46. Sued Louisiana to stop school vouchers and keep low-income minorities trapped in failing schools.
50. Gave 23,994 tax refunds worth more than $46 million to aliens here illegally using the same address in Atlanta, GA.
Other Abuses of Power
55. Signed a stimulus bill that spent money on bonuses for AIG executives, and then acted shocked and outraged at the bonuses.
59. Extended mortgage assistance to people who bought multiple homes during the housing bubble.
63. Reneged on campaign promise to broadcast healthcare reform negotiations on C-SPAN.
67. Adopted pro-union “ambush election” rules.
71. Shut down the Amber Alert website, while keeping up Let’s Move website, during the partial government shutdown.