06.25.2012 0

Obama above the law on DREAM Act and executive privilege?

By Bill Wilson — In his latest expansion of his own power, on June 15 Barack Obama issued an executive action essentially and summarily granting legal status to perhaps 800,000 illegal immigrants. Whether one agrees with the DREAM Act — which would have done essentially the same thing — or not, everyone should agree it was up to Congress to pass it, or not, at its discretion.

Not Obama. Columnist Charles Krauthammer described Obama’s decision as “naked lawlessness,” saying that he had engaged in a “fundamental rewriting of the law.”

Does Obama think he is above the law?

But Obama was not through. Just five days later, he cited executive privilege in Attorney General Eric Holder withholding documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal. By every standard, this is a dramatic expansion of the doctrine, which is only supposed to extend to the President’s top advisors — not low-level Justice Department officials whose actions got a Border Patrol agent and hundreds of Mexicans killed.

If this were applied to its logical extreme, where the President can pick and choose what documents to seal under the guise of executive privilege, no matter how low in the bureaucracy they originate, then he can rob Congress of its constitutional oversight role of the executive branch. If this stands, the separation of powers is dead.

As the Heritage Foundation’s Hans A. von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department official writes, “A president must have a legitimate reason to assert executive privilege; it cannot be used for the purpose of hiding wrongdoing by administration officials, especially to block a contempt citation.”

What is Obama hiding? Perhaps more importantly, what is he thinking?

Taken on their own, these actions are at best Nixonian in their flagrant disregard for the rule of law, which states that neither citizens nor government officials can violate the law.

But Obama’s actions over the past three years have gone much, much further in usurping the constitutional authority of both the legislative and judicial branches. Taken together, they represent the greatest constitutional crisis our country has faced since Nixon resigned.

Obama pretended a congressional recess into existence to make radical appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The Obama Federal Housing Finance Administration arbitrarily allowed Fannie and Freddie mortgages that are 25 percent higher than market value to be refinanced when the law placing the GSEs in conservatorship never allowed it.

Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services issued a regulation to force religious-based institutions to pay for contraception against their teachings in violation of the First Amendment.

His EPA arbitrarily declared carbon dioxide, a gas essential to life itself, to be a “harmful pollutant” covered under the Clean Air Act.

In Jan. 2011, when a federal judge in Florida struck down the entirety of Obamacare as unconstitutional, the Obama Administration continued to implement regulations pursuant to the law, not waiting for the judge to stay his decision.

His Justice Department took on the role of a court and declared the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional when its role is to defend the law whether it agrees with it or not.

These acts should be cause for serious concern for everyone who values the rule of law. These are the acts of a president who is out of control. Who thinks he can do what he wants, when he wants. That is a dangerous combination, is the very definition of a tyrant, and has never ended well throughout history.

Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Bill on Twitter at @BillWilsonALG.

Copyright © 2008-2021 Americans for Limited Government