Politics & Policy

Obama vs. the Rule of Law

Conservatives have long objected to President Obama’s legislative agenda, which, they note, stretches the constitutional limits on government. But at least as disturbing is his penchant for ignoring legislation, a tendency that has led him to force through parts of his agenda without the necessary congressional approval. Articles in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and National Review have highlighted cases of the president’s executive overreach — and now, so has House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The majority leader’s office released a report Tuesday listing example after example of the Obama administration’s disregard for the law. For instance, Public Law 112-86 gave the TSA 180 days to find a way to expedite security screening for members of the military who are in uniform and present official orders. With the deadline passed, little has changed: A few airports allow military members to use shorter lines that were already available to other preferred passengers, and elsewhere our military personnel are screened through the normal lines. As Cantor’s report notes, the Obama administration’s TSA is violating both the law’s letter and its intent.

Another example: Despite a law banning the use of taxpayer dollars to lobby for or against abortion rights in foreign countries, the Obama administration sent $18 million to Kenya specifically to lobby for a constitutional referendum that would expand abortion access there.  

One more: The White House’s 2013 budget proposed creating a network of manufacturing institutes that would connect public and private research-and-development efforts, and the Department of Commerce promised that a $1 billion legislative proposal would be forthcoming. No such legislation was ever introduced, let alone passed, but the president decided he might as well go ahead anyway. “We’re not going to wait — we’re going to go ahead on our own,” he said, and did just that, setting up a pilot institute with funding that had been appropriated to various executive agencies for other purposes.

And that’s just a few fairly obscure, underreported examples of the president’s playing fast and loose with the law; other examples range from recess appointments to coal regulations to de facto amnesty for countless illegal aliens. It would be one thing if the administration were setting aside laws that it believes conflict with the Constitution. In these cases, the administration does not assert any such conflict. It merely ignores laws that get in the way of policies it finds congenial. Undecided voters would do well to consider the repercussions of supporting a man who has so much power and so little to show for it — and Eric Cantor has done well by directing greater public attention to these abuses.


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