Good constitutional arguments can be made for and against President Trump’s evocation of emergency powers to address the crisis at our southern border. But the notion that such a declaration would encourage a future Democratic president to do something similar borders on the comic. Democrats don’t need encouragement.
Under President Barack Obama, the Constitution was violated more wantonly than a goat at a Taliban bachelor party, and the faithful cheered every violation. In early 2014, New Yorker editor and Obama groupie David Remnick wrote about his experience accompanying Obama on a west-coast fundraising tour.
At one stop, when Obama walked out on stage, “It happened again: another heckler broke into Obama’s speech. A man in the balcony repeatedly shouted out, ‘Executive order!’ demanding that the President bypass Congress with more unilateral actions.” TWA 800: The Crash, th... Best Price: $10.39 Buy New $18.24 (as of 01:15 EDT - Details)
Obama confirmed to the audience that, yes, people did want him to sign more executive orders and “basically nullify Congress.” At that point, wrote Remnick, “Many in the crowd applauded their approval. Yes! Nullify it!” These were not wild-eyed tent-dwellers on Wall or some lesser street. These were potential donors.
By 2014, Obama had successfully nullified any number of laws with negligible media objection. In February 2011, for instance, Obama and “wing man” Attorney General Eric Holder came willy-nilly to the conclusion that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was not “constitutional.” President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law in 1996 with overwhelming support from Democrats in Congress and nearly unanimous support from Republicans.
No matter. Going forward, Obama decided that the Justice Department would no longer enforce DOMA. That simple. Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley had a hard time making legal sense out of Obama’s left-field decision to ignore DOMA. For one, Turley found the timing curious. The Obama administration had been defending the law for the previous two years, and the president, publicly, at least, had not changed his personal stance on redefining marriage.
For another, Obama was basing this policy change on an interpretation “that had thus far remained unsupported by direct precedent.” By refusing to enforce DOMA, Obama was setting a precedent and not a good one — namely, that a president could refuse to defend a law based on a legal interpretation that no court had ever accepted.
On the subject of illegal immigration, Obama did not bother deeming existing laws unconstitutional. He chose not to enforce them because they did not poll well among Hispanic voters. It would get no deeper than that.
You Lie!: The Evasions... Best Price: $4.08 Buy New $14.90 (as of 07:50 EDT - Details) Since year one of the Bush administration, Congress had been trying to pass the awkwardly titled Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, better known as the DREAM Act. In a nutshell, this bill would have provided permanent residency to those illegal aliens who had arrived in the United States as minors and behaved themselves well enough not to get their mug shots plastered on the Post Office wall.
Although President Bush supported immigration reform, as did President Obama, neither the DREAM Act nor any major immigration bill made it to their desks. The reason was simple enough: no variation of such a bill could muster adequate congressional support.
In his 2006 book, Audacity of Hope, Obama praised the system of checks and balances in that it “encouraged the very process of information gathering, analysis, and argument.” Once Obama ascended to the presidency, all those checks and balances just made it harder for him to transform America.