Thus Obama eschews enforcement of the immigration laws not because they are comparatively trivial or adequately covered by state police — indeed, his most notable enforcement efforts are directed not at illegal aliens but at states who dare attempt to see to the law’s faithful execution. Obama’s discretionary non-enforcement is not a good-faith husbanding of federal resources but a cynical enterprise in rewarding lawbreakers and cultivating them as a dependable political constituency. His Justice Department practices racial discrimination in the enforcement of the civil-rights laws, a grievous betrayal of the Constitution, in order to appease and empower his political base.
The faithful execution of laws is never partisan; under Obama, the execution of laws is intensely partisan. He purports to make “recess appointments” when Congress is not in recess. He skirts Congress’s constitutional war powers by pretending that attacking another country (Libya) is not making war. If his core supporters are damaged by the suffocating laws he champions — most prominently, Obamacare — he claims the power to “waive” their provisions selectively. Meanwhile, huge bureaucracies are encouraged, expressly or by nod-and-wink, to harass the president’s opponents and push forward his redistributionist, production-strangling, Islamist-empowering agenda. The executive order — formerly an intra-branch efficiency device designed to organize the exercise of the president’s constitutional powers and the enforcement of Congress’s laws — has effectively become legislation, the president substituting his edicts for our laws.
In a vibrant, pluralistic society, law, as an expression of the sovereign will, is unavoidably a product of compromise. In the contentious process, the competing sides bend; they settle on something that neither, given their druthers, would support; and they honorably agree to abide by the result. Under Obama, however, massive laws are enacted — such that no one can conceivably know what the law is. Then the president enforces the parts he approves of, contemptuously disregards the parts that enticed naysayers into compromising, and presumes to amend or repeal inconvenient provisions at his whim.
That is not the rule of law. It is how a dictatorship works.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.