He Shall Take Care That the Laws are Faithfully Executed

A political science professor of mine once said that “some people in America consider the Constitution very important.” I should hope so. It is the very foundation of all law in our country, and the single document through which our rights are protected.

The Constitution ensures that the government cannot oppress its people, and gives individual states the right to handle matters not specifically assigned to the federal government. So should “some” people consider it very important? Or is it, in fact, very important to all of us – whether we choose to realize it or not?

Yesterday, President Obama announced that his Justice Department will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. For those on the left this is a major victory. They have been waiting for DOMA to be repealed ever since President Bill Clinton (Yes, a Democrat) signed it into law in 1996.

For anyone who does not know, DOMA allows states to choose not to recognize gay marriages, partnerships or unions from other states where they are legal, and provides no federal recognition of same-sex relationships whatsoever. This has been a major sticking point for the gay marriage movement, because no matter how many states legalize gay marriage, there will be no federal benefits for gay couples.

For the record, I believe marriage is a state issue. It always has been, and nowhere in the Constitution does it mention marriage falling under the responsibility of the federal government. Therefore, I happen to personally feel that DOMA is unconstitutional. If a state decides gays can marry legally, or enter into domestic partnerships or civil unions, the federal government should be obligated to recognize the laws of that state – so long as they do not conflict with federal law.

I also believe that any state has the right to choose not to recognize a marriage from another state. Keep in mind this would not be an issue if the federal government stayed out of marriage altogether. I still have no idea why the federal government gives anyone special benefits because they are married. That is the very definition of “special rights,” whether you are traditionally married or gay married.

The 14th Amendment, which is cited so often in protecting marriage recognition across state lines, simply states that “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

That means no state can deny you rights protected by the federal government. However it does not prevent states from denying you rights protected by other states. Example: You have a concealed weapons permit from Nevada. You own a gun, and are allowed – by Nevada law – to carry it concealed on your person, within the laws set forth in Nevada.

You are not allowed, however, to bring that gun to Maine – unless you obtain a concealed carry permit from Maine. Maine will deny your right – protected by Nevada – to carry a concealed weapon, until such time as you obtain that right from Maine. Meanwhile, Illinois does not allow any concealed weapons at all. Therefore, Illinois will deny your right – protected by Nevada – to carry a concealed weapon.

So clearly states have the right to have different laws from other states, and the Constitution does not force them to recognize privileges you’ve obtained from other states.

So while the left celebrates Obama’s refusal to enforce DOMA, the rest of America is wondering why this president feels he has the power to choose which laws are valid and which are not. As stated in Article 2, Section 3, of the U.S. Constitution, “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” DOMA is currently the law, and therefore President Obama is constitutionally obligated to enforce it – whether he likes it or not.

Imagine, for a moment, if George W. Bush decided that he did not personally approve of Roe v. Wade, and chose to overturn it. “I will no longer enforce protections to allow abortions.” How do you think the left would react? With outrage, I’d imagine – and they would be justified. Whether you like it or not, abortion is legal in America. You can try to make it illegal, advocate the overturn of Roe v. Wade, pass laws restricting abortion, etc… but TODAY, it is legal.

Likewise, TODAY, DOMA is law. President Obama may choose to ignore the law, but the moment he chooses not to defend DOMA in court, he is in direct violation of the Constitution – which by the way is his SOLE responsibility as president: “To preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

500 BILLION PEOPLE saw him recite the oath on inauguration day. A few people even saw him recite it a second time later in the week. Did he not understand what he was pledging?

Regardless of whether you support or oppose President Obama politically, there is no doubt that he is testing the limits of presidential power. He has done this numerous times.

Health Care – President Obama has given the federal government unprecedented power in the area of health care, even though it is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution. Obamacare has been declared unconstitutional by two federal judges, and will not likely stand up to a Supreme Court review.

The government simply does not have the right to mandate that every American buy a product from a private company, or face fines. (And for those of you who will bring up car insurance, it is only mandatory if you choose to own a car – and you get to make that choice)

Cap & Trade – The Constitution does not give the federal government power over energy, yet President Obama’s Cap & Trade policy would put costly burdens on companies (which would be passed on to consumers) to meet arbitrary goals that the largest polluters on the Earth (India and China) refuse to agree to.

You think we’re losing jobs to India and China now? Wait until these companies have to live under oppressive costs invented to fund a premature green movement. They’ll simply move to India and China where there are no restrictions – and they get the added bonus of cheaper labor. Then all the liberals will complain about evil corporations moving to China to exploit workers. You know the story. It’s as old as time.

Student Loans – Where the hell does the federal government have the right to take sole custody of the student loan industry? I have no problem with federal loans, Pell Grants, etc. But to remove student loans from private institutions completely? That’s just ridiculous. While President Obama says he wants to increase access to education, he really just wants to control the access to education.

There are many more examples just like these.

I’m not a birther, or a right-wing radical – I’m just an American that sees a president consistently ignore the restrictions placed on his office, and the entire federal government. And while every response I get to this article from a liberal will no doubt conjure up images of George W. Bush shredding the Constitution while drinking the blood of poor people with Dick Cheney – two wrongs do not make a right.

President Obama is constitutionally obligated to execute the office of the President of the United States. He is constitutionally obligated to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed.

While campaigning in 2008, then-candidate Obama promised to repeal DOMA. With super-majorities in Congress, he never made one attempt. He had the opportunity, and Republicans would have had no choice but to sit back and watch it happen. He did not act. He is not repealing DOMA now. He is ignoring DOMA – and that’s just as unconstitutional as DOMA itself.

We, as Americans, should want a president who stays within the confines of the Constitution, and within the restrictions it places on the power of the federal government.

We, as Americans, should want any law we disagree with to be overturned legally – so the repeal has a foundation in law and cannot be overturned later on what some may call a technicality. I happen to believe violating the Constitution is a tad bit more serious than a technicality.

This is not a matter of gay versus straight, or Democrat versus Republican. This is a matter of what is right. And even if you believe President Obama’s heart is in the right place, his methods must also be in the right place – or they have no merit.

The ends do not justify the means, when the means are illegal.

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13 thoughts on “He Shall Take Care That the Laws are Faithfully Executed

  1. While I am happy DOMA may be overturned, I too don’t like the idea of the President bailing out on DOMA. Unless there is a binding precendent that makes DOMA unconstitutional on its face, the President is obligated to defend it. Such legal precedents are very rare.

  2. I agree with almost everything you are saying. I’m wondering though, if DOMA truly is in violation of the Constitution (and I agree that it is), perhaps Obama is not violating his duties by refusing to defend it in court. I think a better way to deal with it would have been to repeal it when the Democrats had control of both Houses. I will never understand why he didn’t.

    It seems to me that there are just as many two-faced Conservatives out there as well. Those who are fighting to repeal Obamacare are mostly doing so on the idea that it is in violation of the Constitution, as you’ve said. But we both know that many of these same people have no problem with DOMA because it does something that they want. I’m not saying that towards you, I’m referring to many of the so-called Conservative movements I see out there. They are all about limited government until a few states do something they don’t like such as legalize gay marriage.

  3. “I’m wondering though, if DOMA truly is in violation of the Constitution (and I agree that it is), perhaps Obama is not violating his duties by refusing to defend it in court.”

    A leader can balk at defending a law if there is a precedent from the courts that puts that law under. Here is an example:

    When the Supreme court outlawed segregation, then it became futile to defend such laws. State governments were obligated to back down from defending segregation laws.

    What precendent exists that dooms DOMA? I think that depends on how DOMA is attacked legally. The Federal government can’t give the states permission to violate the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution. States must recognize each others laws. DOMA allows the state to ignore other states marriage laws. Clearly if that is the legal angle DOMA is challenged then the Attorney General has to back away. There is no defense.

  4. I think of the (probably bastardized) quote “This is not a court of justice it is a court of LAW!” There are many times when the president thru the Justice department is required to defend something whether the current administration agrees with it or not. As has been pointed out he is required to uphold it whether it eventually gets defeated or not. And it wasn’t surprising to see Obama not bother to try and repeal DOMA when he had a majority and could have easily done it. He’s against same sex marriage and he was before and I doubt he will change (except on the surface to go with whatever winds/polls are driving things).
    My Church continues to go through a lot about ordaining same sex unions and of course we also elected the first openly gay Bishop (no I don’t agree with everything he believes but he’s a good man). My feeling is the states should allow it. I don’t see them looking at individual straight couples and denying them (why would they unless there was a previous undissolved marriage?). On the other hand churches or individual priests shouldn’t be required to marry just any one. They have their own discretion (not sure the criteria). Sorry, I’m getting off topic. My mind wanders.
    Obama and the Justice Dept have to defend DOMA but they can find legally acceptable ways to not defend it too hard. Then when/if it is struck down they win on both sides. They can tell pro-DOMA people they did defend it and the rest should be happy it was struck down.
    AndyB, Nh.

  5. “So while the left celebrates Obama’s refusal to enforce DOMA, the rest of America is wondering why this president feels he has the power to choose which laws are valid and which are not”

    I don’t know if you’ve read the statement regarding this issue, but this seems to be concerning two specific lawsuits that have reached the second circuit court of appeals, where no DOMA case has gone before. The DoJ has defended the unconstitutional law a number of times in lower courts. The reason it is now dropping its defense in these two lawsuits is that a) there is no precedent in which to defer for dealing with these kinds of cases on this level, and 2) that there is no defense for a rational basis for the enactment of Section 3 of the law. Every other time the law was defended, it was done so because that rational basis could be determined (which, itself is sad). That being said, my advice would be to not worry, because the law still stands, and the DoJ will likely go back to defending this unconstitutional law at the first available opportunity.

    http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/February/11-ag-222.html

    “Imagine, for a moment, if George W. Bush decided that he did not personally approve of Roe v. Wade, and chose to overturn it”

    We don’t really have to imagine what would happen if Bush chose not to enforce certain laws. There’s a record of 161 signing statements in 160 different laws he signed where he took issue with said law and in effect declared the law immaterial.

    “President Obama has given the federal government unprecedented power in the area of health care”

    What’s unprecedented about it? Actually, I think a better question is, where is the power being granted to the federal government? People love to pretend that the law is some socialist takeover by the government, but the government has absolutely no power to administer care whatsoever.

    “The government simply does not have the right to mandate that every American buy a product from a private company”

    Is this the power you speak of? It seems to me that the only logical argument is that private companies are the ones wielding power, seeing as how they’ve just been handed 34 million new customers. As for not having the right to mandate coverage, that’s not entirely true. Seeing as how the Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce, this seems reasonable. Also, mandates are an advent of Republicans, but when a Democrat steals their idea, all hell breaks loose. And this is actually not unprecedented. The very first President of the United States signed the Militia Acts of 1792 into law, which forced not only all able bodied white men to join a militia, but to purchase guns, belts and carrying cases, and even the amount of ammunition.

    “The Constitution does not give the federal government power over energy”

    First, I think labeling it “energy” is misleading, as cap and trade only regulates emissions. Second, using your logic, the EPA doesn’t deserve to exist. Neither does the Department of Energy.

    “President Obama’s Cap & Trade policy would put costly burdens on companies (which would be passed on to consumers)”

    The burden has already been put upon consumers, AKA society. The status quo set forth by the ironically named Clear Skies Act ensures that society will once again have to pick up the tab when some giant corporation pollutes the air and gives people lung cancer. And are you really arguing that not being allowed to pollute is going to cost the consumer somehow? Please explain, because the way I see it, even if costs associated with it were passed to us, we can either pay a little bit more now and make our home and ourselves healthier in the process, or pay a lot more later when the damage to earth and person become apparent. But for the record, I don’t favor a trading scheme to deal with the issue of climate change, because it’s merely another commodity to be inflated. A straight carbon tax would be much more effective in my opinion.

    “You think we’re losing jobs to India and China now? Wait until these companies have to live under oppressive costs invented to fund a premature green movement. They’ll simply move to India and China where there are no restrictions – and they get the added bonus of cheaper labor”

    Added bonus, are you kidding? That is the ONLY reason that we’re losing jobs to China and India. I love this pretense that conservatives have that somehow high taxes are pushing employers to go to third world nations, as if the timing of the weakening of trade barriers was some massive coincidence, and that greed somehow isn’t the main culprit. If labor were cheaper in this country, they would utterly cease with the crowing about how high our tax rates are (never mind the fact that most of these companies don’t pay the taxes anyway).

    “But to remove student loans from private institutions completely? That’s just ridiculous.”

    Why? What reason could you possibly have for opposition to increasing education loans at a lower rate of interest? I’m sure college kids everywhere are outraged about this one…

    “With super-majorities in Congress, he never made one attempt”

    I would really appreciate if you could tell me exactly when the President’s party had this super majority. By my count, the Democrats had 55 seats when Obama took office. For purposes of this conversation, we can safely include one independent vote in Bernie Sanders, and exclude one “independent” vote in Joe Lieberman (as he voted against legalization of same sex marriage). With party switching, special elections, and the long awaited certification of Al Franken, the Democrats never had more than 58 votes, plus Sanders. And even this would be to assume that all 58 Democrats would vote to overturn DOMA, which is unlikely, given the number of conservative Democrats in the Senate. And I don’t think I need to explain that an absolutely best case scenario of 59 votes is not enough to break a filibuster.

    “The ends do not justify the means, when the means are illegal.”

    It’s funny that not very many conservatives (none, by my count) openly espoused this notion in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. Or when we began torturing people. Or when the President authorized warrant-less wiretaps on American citizens. I know, I know, two wrongs don’t make a right. The only problem with that is, I’m having trouble trying to figure out where the wrong occurs under this President, after it was so abundantly clear where it occurred under the last one…

  6. “500 BILLION PEOPLE saw him recite the oath on inauguration day”

    REALLY? 500 BILLION people? lol.

    And what about Republican governors not following the healthcare law? Are you just as mad over that?

  7. @ Tom

    “500 BILLION PEOPLE saw him recite the oath on inauguration day”

    I think Mark meant that globally, 500 billion people watched Obama’s inaugural speech. That would be roughly accurate as there are an estimated 7 trillion people on the face of the Earth.

    Thank God, the health care bill isn’t a law, yet. Health care is a privilege, not a right. As most liberals, you seem to forget the outstanding differences of privileges vs rights. You have to right to an opinion, you have the right to parent your children anyway you choose, you have the right to work or not, you have the right to choose car insurance companies, you have the right to move wherever in the world you would like.
    Privileges are designated to those of the community who work for what they have, who have to make sacrifices for what they own, and who are (in general) productive members of society. Take away those incentives to work and do well in life, and America becomes no better than Cuba, Russia, or N. Korea. We will live in a welfare state, and I’m sure any immigrant you will ever meet from a communist, marxist, fascist nation will tell you that it is an awful way of life.

  8. There are 6 billion people on Earth and btw, Republicans DON’T “enforce” Roe at all! S I don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s not even a law, they can only “enforce” it by suing states for abortion restrictions which they NEVER EVER EVER do! Even when South Dakota outright banned abortion, Bush and hid DOJ did nothing. It took a ballot initiatvie

  9. Enough with the 500 billion nonsense. I think we are smart enough to know that he meant 500 million. It was a typo.

    “Health care is a privilege, not a right. ”

    It is,huh? Please explain to me then how lazy welfare recipients that have never worked and never will, young mothers that pop out baby after baby, and people who are here illegally have earned the privilege to receive health care through Medicaid. While you are at it, explain why a young single guy who works 60 hours per week at 2 or 3 part time jobs that don’t offer any benefits has not earned the privilege of health care.

  10. The “500 BILLION” comment was meant as an exaggeration, depicting the enormous global following Obama has. It was not a typo, or a mistake. Next time I will write “Gajillion” so my intent is clear.

    As for Governors not following the health care law, most provisions do not take effect until 2014 at the earliest. And 26 states are currently suing the federal government over the constitutionality of the law. You know, the law that was shoved down America’s throats, with last minute tricks, middle of the night passage by the Senate on Christmas Eve, bribery on the part of the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, inaccurate GAO numbers…

    I could go on all day. The bottom line is, Obama is a dismal president who couldn’t lead his way out of a used dog-poop bag. His words have been in complete opposition to his actions, and while maintaining that he is a uniter, he has done nothing but push his liberal agenda through Congress — making Pelosi and others do the work while he golfs, plays basketball, hosts sports teams at the White House, and smiles for the cameras.

    There are two types of people in this world. Be-ers, and Do-ers. He is a Be-er. He likes BEING president, but he is unable to DO the job.

    He was right about one thing though. We are no longer red states and blue states, we are now the BROKE states of America.

  11. “You know, the law that was shoved down America’s throats, with last minute tricks, middle of the night passage by the Senate on Christmas Eve, bribery on the part of the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, inaccurate GAO numbers…”

    THANK YOU for admitting you think it’s ok to break the law if you’re Republican

  12. Tom, even if you think Republican governors are “breaking the law” (which they really haven’t, nobody has outright refused, they’re actually challenging the law in court), that would never excuse Obama’s actions.

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