Free Markets, Free People

Ignoring the law to buy votes

One of the bits of genius installed by the founders of this country was three co-equal branches of government, each responsible for a different part of the governing turf.  And the function of the three is not only to be the primary governmental institution in its explicit area of control, but to serve as a "check” on the others and provide “balance” by not letting one branch get more powerful than another.

In the area of immigration, to this point, the executive branch, under Barack Obama, has mostly done that with notable exceptions.   But now, it appears, all appearances of following the law as laid down by Congress seems to have been thrown under the bus.   The Obama administration has, for all intents and purposes, decided what how the law will be interpreted whether Congress likes it or not.   After all, there’s an election in the offing, activist groups to be satisfied and votes to be bought:

Bowing to pressure from immigrant rights activists, the Obama administration said Thursday that it will halt deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis against illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria, such as attending school, having family in the military or having primary responsible for other family members’ care.

The move marks a major step for President Obama, who for months has said he does not have broad categorical authority to halt deportations and said he must follow the laws as Congress has written them.

But in letters to Congress on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she does have discretion to focus on “priorities” and that her department and the Justice Department will review all ongoing cases to see who meets the new criteria.

“This case-by-case approach will enhance public safety,” she said. “Immigration judges will be able to more swiftly adjudicate high-priority cases, such as those involving convicted felons.”

Right … and to totally ignore cases against illegal immigrants who meet the arbitrary standards the administration finds to be “acceptable”.

This, of course, makes it clear to any illegal immigrant what the bare minimum is necessary to avoid deportation.  It’s a government sponsored “okay” to stay illegally.  Just meet one of the criteria (or appear too) and we’ll ignore the law for you.

However you feel about illegal immigration, we’ve always featured ourselves as a nation of laws, not men.   A nation of laws is one which follows laws and, if they don’t like the law, feel it is fair, or whatever, go through the process of changing the law or abolishing it.   What a nation of laws doesn’t do is ignore the law or arbitrarily pick and choose the parts it will follow.   Imagine, if you will, deciding that you weren’t going to follow certain laws because you felt they were unfair.  Say, doing 25 in a school zone.  You tell the officer who stops you that doing 25 is not fuel efficient and you’ve chosen to ignore it and do 45.  How far do you think that would get you in terms of avoiding a ticket?

In this case we have an administration that has decided to pick and choose what part of laws it will enforce.  It isn’t the first.  But this sort of blatant disregard for enforcing the law is both dangerous and something which needs to be stopped and stopped now.

If the executive branch finds a law to be something it has concerns or problems with, it’s recourse should be changing it through the legislative body, per the Constitution.   Or taking it to the Judicial branch for a Constitutional check, if that’s appropriate.  What it must not do is precisely what it is doing – ignoring Congress and literally taking the law into its own hands. 

That is the law of men – arbitrary, selective, dangerous and wrong. 


Twitter: @McQandO

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19 Responses to Ignoring the law to buy votes

  • (Reuters) – Latino activists held a protest outside President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign headquarters on Tuesday to ask him to end a criminal deportation program they say is snaring large number of illegal immigrants who have not committed crimes.

    Besides the “illegal” irony, Obama’s 2012 campaign headquarters seems to be the tender point, I suggest protests there.

  • I have a bad feeling about the direction this is taking. The Democrats have already invested themselves in “stroke of the pen, law of the land, kinda cool” authoritarianism. As we saw during the Obamacare debacle, Obama only feels bound by what he can get away with, not what’s right or legal.

    If it becomes even more obvious around May of next year that Obama is in serious trouble and unlikely to be re-elected, I’m afraid he’ll start grasping at straws. Anything that a staffer can come up with for an executive order that might buy him a few more votes will be fair game.

    Harry Browne was wrong about some things, but he had one idea that I wish the next GOP president would embrace: on inarguration day, wipe the slate clean and get rid of every executive order ever put in place. No doubt wholesale confusion would result, especially among legal types, and possibly even in the military. I think that cost would be well worth the benefit of starting over from scratch with that body of quasi-law.

  • As I’ve said here before, this is the most out-right outlaw administration in modern history.
    I read this (OK, scanned this) this morning, and it is appropriate to your theme here…

    In our own day, violent revolution is unlikely. But expansive and expensive entitlements managed and dispensed by government bureaucracies achieve the same end using democratic means: the redistribution of wealth at the expense of the long-term planning and policies needed for civic and economic well-being. The clash of numerous competing factional interests as they enrich themselves via such government transfers of wealth has led to what journalist Jonathon Rauch in 1994 called “demosclerosis.”
    “By definition,” Rauch explains, “the government’s power comes from its ability to reassign resources, whether by taxing, spending, regulating, or simply passing laws. But that very ability energizes countless investors and entrepreneurs and ordinary Americans to go digging for gold by lobbying government. In time, a whole industry––large, sophisticated, professionalized, and self-serving––emerges and then assumes a life of its own. This industry is a drain on the productive economy, and there appears to be no natural limit to its growth. As it grows, the steady accumulation of subsidies and benefits, each defended in perpetuity by a professional interest group, calcifies government. Government loses its capacity to experiment and so becomes more and more prone to failure.”  worth reading the whole thing.

    • Yeah, in my consulting and training, I occasionally bump up against this “large, sophisticated, professionalized, and self-serving” industry. I know the goo-goo types think you can just regulate efficiency and keep out corruption with rules, but these folks are world class experts at gaming whatever rules the bureaucrats put in place.

      • Which, naturally, is the great danger of the fascist economic model.  It replaces a market where players are rewarded for innovation, efficiency, and using the information from the market to offer stuff that pleases the consumer.  It substitutes a system where the competition is for favor from the few oligarchs.  It favors incumbent BIG COMPLIANT BUSINESS, and it kills innovative entrepreneurial business.
        It, along with all BIG GOVERNMENT models, replaces free people with supplicants.  Americans are not supposed to be supplicants, but masters.

        • Billy & Rags; you guys have GOT to read Mark Steyn’s new book, “After America”.
          Keep a “SickSack” handy.

          • I’m two chapters into the book already. I can only stand to read about a chapter a day, to be honest. As funny as Steyn is, it’s mostly dark humor this time, and all too close to home.

          • Thanks, Sharps…  I will read it.  I will have a good Islay Scotch and a cigar to fortify me.  If I’m going down, I insist on doing it in a civilized manner…

  • McQ – [A]ll appearances of following the law as laid down by Congress seems to have been thrown under the bus.   The Obama administration has, for all intents and purposes, decided what how the law will be interpreted whether Congress likes it or not.

    Can the next GOP president do this, too?

    / sarc

    Ragspierre – [Lefties] are just a sheet of paper away from loving them some dictator.

    Yep.  Living in Germany in 1938 rocked… if you were a nazi.  Living in the South in 1855 rocked… if you were a slave owner.  Living in Iraq in 1987 rocked… if you were a Ba’athist.  Living in Red China today rocks… if you are a senior member of the communist party or otherwise “in good” with the party.

    O’ course, if you’re NOT in the “in group”, life kind of sucks (for as long as it lasts).  This is what the left doesn’t quite grasp.  They are setting up a system that they may well find VERY disagreeable when they are not in charge any more.  Are they too stupid to realize this?  Or does President Pathetic represent their final gambit; do they think that he’ll set things up so that they will ALWAYS be in charge?

    • This is typical of people.  They love it all when they are in charge.
      Every little boy and girl love the idea of going back to the Medieval period, but never as a serf.

      • Indeed.  I suppose that the difference – and what USED to be part of “citizenship education” in America – is teaching people why that’s rather wrong.

        “No, no, Tommy: this is AMERICA.  Being a king is wrong because people are created equal and should be able to run their own lives, not have somebody else tell them what to do.”

        • Making it rather a pity that Obama was born in Hawaii.
          All his citizenship training detailed was what he was owed and how others would provide.

      • That also applies to fuedal Japan. I’ve known adult men who wanted to live as a samurai or ninja. They never imagine themselves as a serf.

      • I think it’s the same effect Crash Davis pointed out in Bull Durham: people who think they’re reincarnated were always somebody famous in their past life. Nobody ever says they used to be Joe Schmoe in a previous life.

      • About an hour of living even as a king in the reality of the Medieval period would disabuse anybody with a sense of self-preservation.
        The “poor” in America are VASTLY better off than the most crazy-rich potentate COULD be back then.  Life was short, dark, cold, hungry, oppressive, fearful, and ignorant.
        Just like OwlGore would like it to be again…for us.

  • Sadly, selective enforcement of the law, usually couched in terms of “deciding how best to spend limited law enforcement resources”, is deeply embedded in our legal system.  Personally, if an area decides that it is unwilling to expend resources enforcing a law, then by all rights, that law should immediately be struck down.  But we all know why this doesn’t happen.
    Now, of course, we should demand that if Obama is unwilling to go after peaceful illegal immigrants, then by all rights he should tell the DEA to stop going after peaceful drug users and dealers.