Quote of the Day:
One reason American politics is so polarized is that President Obama has been so cavalier about his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws he dislikes.
The Supreme Court will hear a case today that was triggered by one of President Obama's most blatant acts of disregard for the law–his 2014 diktat on immigration. As the Wall Street Journal points out in an editorial this morning the issue is not immigration reform but the separation of powers, a basic precept of our Constitution:
We support humane and economically rational immigration reform, but Texas isn’t about the policy merits. The case implicates the Constitution’s separation of powers and the basic precepts of self-government. The Anglo-American legal tradition began as the English rebelled in the late 1600s against the Stuart kings who claimed the power to suspend or dispense with laws passed by Parliament. The first two grievances against the Crown in America’s Declaration of Independence concerned such “Abuses and Usurpations.”
The Framers wrote Article II’s Take Care clause to prevent the President from claiming the same lawmaking powers. The executive shall—not “may”—execute Congress’s laws faithfully, in one of the Constitution’s most specific instructions.
Congress has debated a more generous immigration policy during the Obama years, and all the while Mr. Obama insisted he couldn’t act alone. “I am President. I am not king,” he told Univision in 2014. “I can’t do these things just by myself. We have a system of government that requires the Congress to work with the executive branch to make it happen.”
But reform failed, and two weeks after the 2014 midterm election Mr. Obama decided he could act like a legislature: “I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue, and Congress chooses to do nothing.” He has no such authority.
The president's re-write of immigration law makes it easy for people here illegally to remain here indefinitely and makes them eligible after a few years to receive social welfare benefits (including ObamaCare).
The Obama administration claims that the re-write of the law is actually the exercise of prosecutorial discrimination–a government doesn't have the resources to enforce every law, it argues, so it must use judgment. But prosecutorial discrimination involves an individual prosecutor making a decision, not a wholesale refusal to enforce the law for an entire class of people.
The editorial concludes:
If Presidents can use “enforcement discretion” to suspend laws, the next one may choose to lower the capital gains rate by informing taxpayers the IRS won’t collect tax-evasion penalties over 15%. Environmental regulations could be ignored through a similar trick.
This should deeply trouble the liberal Justices as much as the conservatives. This case gives them an opportunity to reset the political system for the post-Obama era. His lawless integration of the executive and legislative function
Not sure the legal justices will see it this way but we can hope.
And of course this case is a reminder, if one is needed, of what is at stake in the presidential election, which has been so far quite discouraging when it comes to talking about principles.