Our Opinion: In a word, Constitution
It has taken nearly seven years, but finally federal judges seem to be taking the constitutional separation of powers seriously.
For years, President Barack Obama has been, in effect, overruling Congress on federal law.
He has done it on environmental policy, the Obamacare law he decided needed fine-tuning after his administration wrote it, the Guantanamo Bay detention center for terrorist suspects, drug enforcement – and immigration.
Last week a federal judge called him out on the latter, pointing out the president’s own words doomed him to lose a lawsuit on immigration enforcement.
Obama had announced a plan that amounted to granting amnesty to many, perhaps millions, of people who came to this country illegally.
In a 2-1 decision, the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Obama cannot pursue that plan.
Judge Jerry E. Smith, writing the majority opinion, pointed out the president admitted in public he was taking the immigration because Congress refused to enact the law he wanted on the issue.
In a Nov. 20, 2014 speech in Chicago, Obama stressed, in fact, that “I just took action to change the law.”
Presidents are required by the Constitution to enforce the law – not change it to suit their desires. But he has done it time and time again.
Early in his first term, the U.S. Senate rejected a pet climate change law Obama wanted. His reaction was to stop asking Congress for permission and have the Environmental Protection Agency promulgate draconian new rules on its own.
On Obamacare, the White House wrote the law, but it later became politically inconvenient. So the president simply decided not to enforce several provisions.
Much the same thing has occurred on other issues.
Agreement with or rejection of Obama’s goals is not the critical issue here. It is, in a word, the Constitution.
Again, some federal judges seem to comprehend the danger of allowing Obama to abuse separation of powers. Now, more of them should take concrete action to stop him.