It’s the illegitimacy, stupid.
One of the most frequent questions I get is “How can we stop Obama from ….”
The ellipses reflects that there are a variety of issues on which people want Obama stopped.
The answer to most of those questions is, as Obama himself suggested, to go out and win some elections.
And that is exactly what just happened earlier this month.
In what appropriately could be termed a legal insurrection, voters around the country rejected the Party of Obama and his policies. So much so that Republicans in the House have a historic majority even beyond what the 2010 wave brought in, and Republicans regained control of the Senate by a comfortable margin.
That will go a long way towards stopping Obama, but only if Obama respects the boundaries of his constitutional power.
By tradition, a President respects the constitutional powers of the other branches of government, although there always is tension. When that respect is breached, there is precious little constitutional enforcement power.
Congress can write laws, but it cannot execute those laws; for that Congress depends on the Executive Branch, which is given some level of enforcement discretion since no legislation can be so specific as to delineate who does what and when.
Similarly, the Courts are loathe to get involved in refereeing political disputes between Congress and the President, and there even are questions as to whether Congress has “standing” to sue to demand enforcement. The Supreme Court has no army, other than the public expectation that its decisions will be respected.
On the flip side, Congress has no power, for example, to conduct its own foreign policy, appoint its own ambassadors and operate its own embassies.
The bonds that keep our constitutional system working are not through the barrel of a gun, but through the core good faith of each branch respecting constitutional boundaries.
Obama repeatedly in the past stated that he understood and would respect those boundaries.
Obama’s reported plan to grant executive amnesty to 5 million or more illegal aliens by means of non-enforcement of the immigration laws threatens to tear at that fragile bond.
Ross Douthat writes that Obama seems poised to disgrace himself on amnesty by turning discretion into defiance, The Great Immigration Betrayal:
IN the months since President Obama first seem [sic] poised — as he now seems poised again — to issue a sweeping executive amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, we’ve learned two important things about how this administration approaches its constitutional obligations.
First, we now have a clear sense of the legal arguments that will be used to justify the kind of move Obama himself previously described as a betrayal of our political order. They are, as expected, lawyerly in the worst sense, persuasive only if abstracted from any sense of precedent or proportion or political normality.
Second, we now have a clearer sense of just how anti-democratically this president may be willing to proceed….
The reality is there is no agreed-upon limit to the scope of prosecutorial discretion in immigration law because no president has attempted anything remotely like what Obama is contemplating. In past cases, presidents used the powers he’s invoking to grant work permits to modest, clearly defined populations facing some obvious impediment (war, persecution, natural disaster) to returning home. None of those moves even approached this plan’s scale, none attempted to transform a major public policy debate, and none were deployed as blackmail against a Congress unwilling to work the president’s will….
He once campaigned on constitutionalism and executive restraint; he once abjured exactly this power. There is still time for him to respect the limits of his office, the lines of authority established by the Constitution, the outcome of the last election.
Or he can choose the power grab, and the accompanying disgrace.
Normally, disgrace is a hugely motivating incentive for a President not to make the power grab.
In this case, do not expect that disgrace will disincentivize a President who views fundamental transformation of the country as his motivating doctrine.
So back to the question, What can be done to stop Obama’s amnesty plan?
Impeachment attempts (which never will get the needed Senate super majority) or another government partial shutdown seem to be what Democrats are hoping for, because they present an opportunity to change the subject while not changing Obama’s defiance.
I don’t have an answer, but focusing on public opinion matters. A joint congressional resolution declaring Obama’s actions null and void will put all on notice of the illegitimacy in the eyes of the people’s representatives.
Also, organize a public legal insurrection at the state and local level refusing to recognize the executive action as legitimate. Force Obama to sue to enforce the executive action.
Make the issue Obama’s defiance of our laws, and the illegitimacy of his actions the centerpiece of the public debate.
At the end of the day I’m not sure there is anything that can “stop” the extra-constitutional amnesty, but there is much to be done to make sure that disgrace has consequences.DONATE
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