For most of us, the question that is the title of this article is apparent. Barack Obama most definitely failed to uphold his constitutional oath to enforce the laws of the land. We We could point to numerous instances, especially regarding the Defense of Marriage Act and Obama’s immigration policy. In both instances he ignored the law. With immigration he decided to pick and choose what he would enforce and with DOMA he instructed his justice department to no longer defend it. However, a House committee held a hearing yesterday to challenge Obama for failing to uphold his duty as President, under the Constitution, to enforce the nation’s laws. Specifically, the committee looked at whether or not Obama sidestepped Congress and failed to enforce his own signature healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
The night before the hearing, Judge Andrew Napolitano appeared on The Kelly File and explained, “The committee is looking into whether the president has substituted his judgment for that of the Congress’s in such a way that he has enforced a law that Congress didn’t write because he rewrote it.”
Napolitano said that Obama was unauthorized to change the date of the implementation of the employer mandate in Obamacare and indicated that the House could pass a resolution which pointed that Obama had not enforced the laws.
“It will further diminish and destroy the trust he once had with the American people,” Napolitano said.
However, what would that actually do? Nothing. It would be a purely political move, but have absolutely no teeth in it. There would be more sting in a ruler to the back of the hand than a House resolution.
During the House Judiciary Committee hearing, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) asked whether or not Obama had the “prosecutorial discretion” to not enforce immigration and marijuana laws.
Gowdy asked Simon Lazarus, the senior counsel to the Constitutional Accountability Center, an expert who testified at the hearing, “If the president can fail to enforce immigration laws, can the president likewise fail to enforce election laws? The President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws.”
“If you can dispense with immigration laws or marijuana laws or mandatory minimums, can you also dispense with election laws?” Gowdy asked.
Lazarus answered, “No.”
“Why not? If he can suspend mandatory minimum and immigration laws, why not election laws?” Gowdy asked.
“Because we live in a government of laws, and the president is bound to obey them and apply them,” Lazarus replied.
“Well he’s not applying the ACA, and he’s not applying immigration laws, and he’s not applying marijuana laws, and he’s not applying mandatory minimums. What’s the difference with election laws?” Gowdy asked.
Lazarus then defended Obama, saying “We have a disagreement as to whether in fact he is applying those laws. My view is that he is applying those laws.”
Gowdy then turned his questions toward Jonathan Turley, professor at George Washington University Law School.
“Professor Turley, what are the limits of prosecutorial discretion, and if the president can suspend immigration laws, marijuana laws, why not election laws?” asked Gowdy.
“I think that some of these areas I can’t imagine to be justified through prosecutorial discretion. It’s not prosecutorial discretion to go into a law and say, an entire category of people will no longer be subject to the law. That’s a legislative decision,” Turley answered.
“Prosecutorial discretion is a case-by-case decision that is made by the Department of Justice. When the Department of Justice starts to say we’re going to extend that to whole sections of laws, then they are engaging in a legislative act, not an act of prosecutorial discretion,” Turley added.
Turley continued, “Wherever the line is drawn has got to be drawn somewhere from here. It can’t include categorical rejections of the application of the law to millions of people.”
“The president is outside the line, but it has to go in front of a court, and that court has to grant review, and that’s where we have the most serious constitutional crisis I view in my lifetime, and that is this body is becoming less and less relevant,” Turley concluded.
Obama’s executive orders have been playing a part in each of these issues, from his 2012 announcement that he would not be deporting young illegals, to his non-enforcement of DOMA to his “fixes” of Obamacare. A House Resolution is not the answer for this matter. Impeachment is. That is the Constitutional duty the House has, whether or not the Senate decides to do their duty and remove Obama from office or not.
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