The point is not what you think about the merits of the DREAM Act. Or of mandatory drug sentences. Or of subsidizing health care premiums for $175,000-a-year members of Congress. Or even whether you think governors should be allowed to weaken the work requirements for welfare recipients -- an authority the administration granted last year in clear violation of section 407 of the landmark Clinton-Gingrich welfare reform of 1996.
The point is whether a president, charged with faithfully executing the laws that Congress enacts, may create, ignore, suspend and/or amend the law at will. Presidents are arguably permitted to refuse to enforce laws they consider unconstitutional (the basis for so many of George W. Bush's so-called signing statements). But presidents are forbidden from doing so for reason of mere policy -- the reason for every Obama violation listed above.That the president may not refuse to enforce a law "for reason of mere policy" is in fact a Supreme Court ruling, Clinton v. City of New York, 1998, in which Justice John Paul Stevens noted: "There is no provision in the Constitution that authorizes the president to enact, to amend, or to repeal statutes." As long ago as 1838, in Kendall v. United States, the court ruled that allowing the president to refuse to enforce statutes passed by Congress "would be clothing the president with a power to control the legislation of congress, and paralyze the administration of justice." More here.
But as I noted in my post linked above, the courts, including the Supreme Court, lack the means of compelling a president to comply with their rulings. And Congress won't. How much further down the lawless path we are now than in 2012 when The Washington Post noted,
... if Obama can systematically amend legislation without Congress, then “President Romney could lower tax rates simply by saying he will not use enforcement resources to prosecute anyone who refuses to pay capital-gains tax. He could repeal Obamacare simply by refusing to fine or prosecute anyone who violates it.” Not enforce the Dodd-Frank financial legislation? Sure. Tell the Environmental Protection Agency to cease all enforcement actions? Fine.
That the media elites who bleated about President George W. Bush’s purported “shredding” of the Constitution are silent is tribute to the left’s intellectual hypocrisy and the strength of the totalitarian temptation. If it serves liberal ends then, presto, it is legal. ...
Congress was accused of risking financial bankruptcy in the showdown over the debt. Obama risks constitutional bankruptcy. The chattering class yawns.Yawns? A year later they have fallen comatose.