It has become evident in the last few weeks just how privileged the nation's chief executive thinks he is. President Obama apparently believes the rules don't apply to him or his administration.
It has become evident in the last few weeks just how privileged the nation’s chief executive thinks he is. President Obama apparently believes the rules don’t apply to him or his administration.
He announced this month he was suspending deportation of illegal immigrants under 30 who were brought to the United States as children and would allow the group to apply for work permits. It is estimated the new policy will apply to about 800,000 people.
“They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: On paper. They were brought to this country by their parents — sometimes even as infants — and often have no idea that they’re undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver’s license, or a college scholarship,” Obama said in announcing the new policy.
While the policy has received some praise, it also has drawn criticism related to the way the president has gone about it. He originally tried to get similar legislation called the DREAM Act through Congress, but failed. During debate, the president seemed to believe the law had to be changed to carry out the new policy.
“With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed,” said Obama in March of 2011 at a Univision town hall.
The laws have not changed since Obama made the statement. What has changed is his inability to get the legislation passed. Instead, he decided to no longer enforce the law since he doesn’t like it.
This is not his first such action. Another law the president didn’t care for was the Defense of Marriage Act. That act, signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, allows states not to recognize same sex marriage from other states. It also prohibits same-sex marriage recognition in areas such as federal employee benefits, Social Security and married tax return filing status.
Speaking at a gay pride month reception in the White House on the same day he announced his new immigration policy, Obama said, “We’ve expanded benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees, prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity for workers in the federal government. We’ve supported efforts in Congress to end the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. And as we wait for that law to be cast aside, we’ve stopped defending its constitutionality in the courts.”
Once again, Obama doesn’t like a law so he’s not going to enforce it.
Last week, the Obama administration cited its executive privilege in refusing to turn over documents from the Justice Department that had been requested by Congress. The documents are relative to a botched anti-smuggling operation that resulted in hundreds of guns ending up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
Attorney General Eric Holder has testified to Congress that he did not have any knowledge of the operation known as Fast and Furious until after the fact. Most believe the documents will make Holder look bad and perhaps contradict his testimony regarding the timeline of when he knew what.
The executive branch has argued over the years that as a separate branch of government it should not be compelled to turn over certain documents regarding internal decision-making. President Washington first attempted to assert the privilege in 1792 over a military defeat by a group of Native Americans tribes at the Battle of the Wabash.
As with most presidents, eventually Washington turned over the documents. Since executive privilege is not defined in the Constitution or clearly resolved by the court, Congress and the executive branch usually negotiate a settlement rather than risk losing the battle once and for all in court. An exception was President Nixon, who fought and lost, eventually turning over documents related to the Watergate investigation to the courts.
It seems unlikely that Obama would want to go down the same path as Nixon by sending the fight to the courts, but he certainly has proven lately that he considers himself quite privileged when it comes to the laws of the land.
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Jason Tolbert is an accountant and conservative political blogger. His blog — The Tolbert Report — is linked at ArkansasNews.com. His e-mail is jason@TolbertReport.com