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The Obama Doctrine and the Rule of Law

Remember the good old days when Democrats cared about the rule of law? Or pretended to, anyway. That was during the Bush administration, even though most if not all of the policies that prompted “rule of law” complaints from the left were in fact supported by good legal authority. That was then, and this is now: the Age of Obama is, among its many other faults, an age of lawlessness. I won’t attempt anything like a complete catalog, but let’s just recall a few–the cramdown of bondholders’ rights that first caused the label “Gangster Government” to be applied to the administration; the circumvention of administrative procedures to speed up cash flow to the administration’s “green energy” cronies; the illegal funneling of weapons to Mexican drug cartels; the attempt to dictate religious doctrine to the Catholic Church in violation of the First Amendment; and the president’s targeting of Mitt Romney’s financial supporters with vicious smears, including falsely accusing them of being criminals.

Now we have President Obama announcing that he will selectively stop enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, where he thinks that such non-enforcement will be politically advantageous to him. What is remarkable about this particular instance is that Obama has previously stated that he has no legal authority to do what he did last week. No matter. Rule of law? That’s for the Republicans. Jennifer Rubin has more on this topic, as does Michael Ramirez:

Do Democrats mind seeing the United States turned into a banana republic? Not particularly. Evidently, their only concern is their guy’s re-election. Still, at least a few of them must have pondered what the Obama Doctrine will mean under a Republican administration. The president’s campaign says that Mitt Romney wants to pursue a policy of radical deregulation. I hope they are right; and, of course, the president can effect significant changes in the regulatory climate through his policies and appointments. Thus, in a Romney administration the EPA presumably would stop making war on the American economy. And, of course, law enforcement always involves establishment of priorities.

But the Obama Doctrine goes much farther than that. The Obama Doctrine holds that the president need not “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” as the Constitution says, but rather can effectively repeal or amend statutes by publicly declining to enforce, or selectively enforcing, them. How might the doctrine be applied in a Republican administration? To take just one of countless examples, most Republicans think that Dodd-Frank is a bad law. Under the Obama Doctrine, if there aren’t enough votes in Congress to repeal the law, President Romney will be able to accomplish the same result by announcing that henceforth, the federal government will make no effort to enforce it. Perhaps Romney could cut taxes unilaterally, too, simply by decreeing that the IRS will not prosecute tax evasion above certain percentage levels.

Given that I expect that we will have a Republican president in seven months, the Obama Doctrine has a certain appeal. Still, we conservatives actually believe in the rule of law. So when President Obama is shuffled out of office, the Obama Doctrine no doubt will find itself on the ash heap of history along with so much else that our president has wrought.

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