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Pandora’s Box

Last week, President Obama extended protection from deportation to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants who met certain criteria.  It is the most aggressive use of his “pen and phone” that we’ve seen so far, and I fear that by the time his tenure in the White House is over it will be eclipsed a few times.  His opponents are howling at the injustice of it, while his supporters praise him for cutting through the Gordian Knot of Congressional opposition.

But I fear that Mr. Obama’s ever-escalating use of executive orders to do what Congress will not leads us down a dangerous road.  At what point will it flip from being a legal way for a president to use the powers that the Constitution and the Congress give him to do something he wants to being a way for a president to do anything he wants?  Like I’ve said before, Obama could be a philosopher king, with a pure heart and the best of intentions, but the precedent he sets for other presidents will lead them to expand and abuse any power or prerogative he claims.

Consider this example:  Let’s assume that in 2016 a conservative, pro-gun rights Republican wins the White House.  What would be the reaction if the president sits down at her desk the day after the inauguration and signs the following executive order?

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, it shall be the policy of this administration that all federal gun control laws are unconstitutional.  I direct the Attorney General to not defend these laws in the courts, to drop any investigations and prosecutions for alleged crimes based on them, and to not initiate any new investigations or prosecutions under them.  This administration shall provide to my office within 60 days a list of those who have been convicted or have pleaded guilty to offenses under these laws, but have no other convictions, so that pardons may be offered to them.

This is the box of demons that President Obama is opening. Imagine if the next president came out with something like this, or if it dealt with labor laws, or income taxes, or whatever other conservative trigger topic you want.  There are things that executive orders are an appropriate tool for, and there are things for which they are inappropriate.  This seems, to me, to cross into the inappropriate area.

Do you all really want future presidents to feel comfortable going this far? That’s how far President Obama has gone.

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2 Comments

  1. Another aspect that some have not considered — what happens when the people start making the same legal argument in courts.
    If the president can arbitrarily refuse to follow the law; why should a local sheriff, city council, state legislation/governor.

    How about the people themselves — hey, if President Obama doesn’t have to follow the law about borders; why should we have to follow the law regarding borders on national parks and where we camp/carry a gun, etc.

    By showing that Congress has failed to act and we are left with no choice but to act on our own; we can get away with anything.

    Bob S.

    • What’ll happen is they will lose in court. Unfortunately the only court that can change the President’s actions is the Supreme Court or the Senate, neither of which I see doing anything about this.

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