President Should Not Be Above the Law
- 28 August 2011 by Author 0 Comments
President Should Not Be Above the Law
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 08/28/11
Although I was mostly apolitical as a teenager growing up in the 70’s, I recall with clarity the public debate over Richard Nixon’s role in the Watergate break-in. That role led to articles of impeachment being drafted against him, and in the face of certain ratification by congress, Nixon resigned the office of the presidency. Although the articles of impeachment specified illegal activity warranting impeachment, the consensus among the public at large was that Nixon felt himself to be above the law, and that he could do whatever he pleased as chief executive of the nation.
The President of our republic is arguably the chief law enforcement officer of the country. He heads the executive branch, which is responsible for enforcing the laws of the land. The Attorney General of the nation is the president’s appointee charged specifically with that duty, of enforcing the laws that are established by legislative statute. The President cannot pass or impose laws, as that is the function of the legislative branch. He can issue Executive Orders which may clarify executive intent on the execution of specific laws established by congress, and no one did that better than George W. Bush.
However, can a president place himself above the laws of the land and choose which laws to enforce and which not to enforce? Many feel that is what Nixon did, and many feel that’s what Barack Obama did last week when his Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, declared that they would not enforce the nation’s laws with regard to those who enter the country illegally.
The Immigration and Nationality Act Section 237 says, “Any alien who is present in the United States in violation of this Act or any other law of the United States is deportable.” According to INS statistics a few years ago, about 60% of our estimated fifteen million illegal aliens (foreign nationals) are guilty of “entry without inspection,” or EWI. The remaining 40% are illegal for overstaying their authorized duration of residency in the country. Under federal statute cited above, both are deportable offenses.
So does Obama feel he’s above the law and can cherry pick which laws he’ll enforce and which he won’t? Apparently so. But it’s not the first time. There are several laws which Obama’s justice department refuses to enforce, including the Defense of Marriage Act, and voter intimidation laws. The latter is the most blatant for it involved well-documented and recorded efforts (some of which are viewable on YouTube) of voter intimidation by Black Panthers in paramilitary garb harassing Philadelphia voters in 2008.
Bartle Bull, a former civil rights lawyer and publisher of the left-wing Village Voice observed the intimidation (which is a federal offense) firsthand, and called it “the most blatant form of voter intimidation I’ve ever seen.” Bull testified that not only were the thugs brandishing clubs as weapons, but they hurled racial threats at voters, including “You are about to be ruled by the black man, cracker!” Yet Obama’s justice department dropped the charges against them. This is not surprising since one of the intimidators was Jerry Jackson, a member of Philadelphia’s 14th Ward Democratic Committee and a credentialed poll watcher for the Party. Rhetorically we might question if charges would have been similarly dropped against Republican poll watchers, or against Tea Party activists implicated in such voter intimidation.
Another blatant disregard of law is Obama’s handling of his “kinetic” war against Libya. The Constitution and the War Powers Act require approbation from Congress for the deployment of military forces abroad for more than 60 days. It has been 150 days since Obama deployed forces to Libya, and no sign of congressional approval is in sight.
Obama’s response for such authorization was that Congressional involvement in this regard would be “unnecessary and unhelpful.” Liberal Congressman Dennis Kucinich has been among the chorus of critics calling Obama’s disdain of congressional approval a clear usurpation of Congressional authority. “President Obama moved forward without Congress approving. He didn’t have Congressional authorization, he has gone against the Constitution, and that’s got to be said.” Kucinich added that Obama’s actions “would appear on its face to be an impeachable offense.”
President Obama is frequently compared to our 39th President, Jimmy Carter, for his dismal failure in handling the economy. He currently enjoys a 26% approval rating in handling of the economy, according to Rasmussen, which proves that while it may be impossible to fool all the people all of the time, it is possible to fool about a fourth of them. But in terms of narcissism and a superiority complex that supersedes the rule of law, he arguably could be more aptly compared with our 37th President, Richard Nixon, as the evidence is mounting that he considers himself to be above the law.
AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.