The Corner

Politics & Policy

Overturning DACA Would Be a Win for the Constitution

The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., November 13, 2018 (Al Drago/Reuters)

The notion that a Democratic president should be able to unilaterally implement a policy like DACA but that it should be unlawful for a Republican president to undo the same policy in the same way really reflects the contemporary progressive view of American governance. Democrats these days seem to believe the use of power is justified by the strength of intentions and outcomes. Process is an afterthought.

Whether most voters are concerned with constitutional norms or not (and I tend to think very few are) the fear of political retribution had long induced political leaders parties to show some minimal restraint. You never know when you’ll be in the minority. While this was always been a rickety truce, Barack Obama and Harry Reid blew it up after 2010. And today Democrats act as if history began in 2016.

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday on the administration’s decision to end DACA. Democrat AGs maintained that the asserted rationale of the Trump administration wasn’t good enough. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had argued that the program had exceeded the president’s statutory authority, which is the most persuasive argument there is for rolling back a program that, even by Obama’s admission, was implemented to circumvent Congress. The deadlock over immigration reform — or any other issue, for that matter — reflects the position of the elected legislative branch; it’s not a signal for the president to act like a monarch. After all, we still have a deadlock on immigration, and Democrats surely don’t believe Trump should be dictating policy by pen and phone.

The executive branch doesn’t exist to be tie-breaker in tough national debates, and it doesn’t exist to craft laws in perpetuity. Even Obama called DACA “a temporary stopgap measure” — even after he had said over and over again that doing it was illegal. As a matter of politics, a DACA rollback might well be a problem for Republicans because somewhere around 70 percent of the American public supports it. I certainly support any comprehensive reform effort that also deals with illegal immigrants who were brought here as children. In the matter of reasserting the proper limits of power, however, an administration win on DACA is a win for the Constitution. Because in this instance, for his own reasons, Trump is on the side of restraint.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun

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