Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Obama decides not to enforce another law

As with immigration, The President of the United States has decided that he will no longer enforce another law. What good does it do to have a Congress that enacts laws if the President can just unilaterally decide not to enforce them? Doesn't that kind of undermine our entire system of government?

CORRECTION: The President has decided that his Justice Department will no longer defend in court challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act.  Not being a lawyer, it seems to me that this is not much different than refusing to enforce it but the way I first stated this is not technically accurate.


Kevin said...

Since there are limited resources you have to make decisions about how to use those resources. If you were The President I would expect that you'd shift resources away from prosecution of Christians that you deemed unwarranted or oppressive. Perhaps you'd make sure that other cases that dealt with issues you felt were important received more resources. Obama does the same.

I'm not agreeing with the action, only that the sinister nature of it may have more to do with your disagreement w/ Obama's ideology and not resource prioritization itself.

Dennis said...

OR it could be that Obama took this very controversial and emotionally charged action to divert attention from the fact that he is failing miserably in foreign policy.

OR it could be an effort to divert attention away from the fact that he has failed miserably in the economy--and yet he is still supporting the unions which are destroying the economy.

OR it could be that he is starting to realize how much trouble he is going to have in the upcoming election and this is an effort to shore up his Leftist base which is angry at him for not being Communist enough.

OR it could be any combination thereof. Call me cynical, but I think any of the above options are more likely than the idea that he suddenly decided that he needed to re-arrange the Justice Department priorities (If that were the case why didn't he just say he will give lower priority to DOMA cases)?

Kevin said...

I didn't clearly articulate my point, my apologies.

I understood your statement "What good does it do to have a Congress that enacts laws if the President can just unilaterally decide not to enforce them? Doesn't that kind of undermine our entire system of government?" to mean that Obama was exercising powers that undermined the separation of powers in The Constitution.

I understood Obama's actions to be acting on the separation of powers, not against them. The Executive Branch has the authority to assign resources as it sees fit, within the powers it's been given. I think the Executive Branch would be much weaker without this power; it's way to check Congress. I think Obama should be called out and held accountable for his actions in the next election, but I don't think he's done anything he's not authorized to do. This is politics; exercising the power you have to further your agenda.

So I agree with you in that I disagree with Obama's decision, but I would disagree with you if you're suggesting he has somehow undermined The Constitution. If you think the people of the US are undermined by these types of actions then the next step would be to argue for The Constitution to be amended to limit the powers of the Executive Branch.

I'm not really sure how to respond to three different speculative accusations about why Obama did what he did. I suspect people who disagree with Obama would like to believe any or all of the three and that people who agree with Obama on this point would simply believe that he did what he did because he didn't agree with the law and wanted to use the power he had to weaken it. I don't think we learn anything about his motives, the impact of the decision he made, or the system by which he has the power to make the decision through speculation.

Phil said...

You make a decent and thought out assertion Kevin, but there is a huge problem with it (in as far as the issue of seperation of powers is concerned, I'm not so much responding to the idea of allocation of resources).

The problem with your assertion that what he did is part of what he is authorized to do to keep congress "in check" is that said executive power already exists. It is called the veto.

The veto is the power to keep congress in check and say, "I do not agree with your law/bill" on the part of the President. Congress than has the ability to override the veto through a second vote which must pass by 2/3 (if memory serves me correctly) instead of a simple majority. If the President simply has the ability to subsequently not enforce the law, it really defeats the purpose of the ability to override a veto. What good would it do to override the veto if, after the President could simply say, "well I'm not going to enforce the law than"?

Just a thought.