The Obama Doctrine

Rule of Law by from The Weekly Standard, July 2, 2014

In the past week alone, President Obama has twice been rebuked by the Supreme Court for having run afoul of the Constitution (a 9-0 decision) or federal law (5-4). Unchastened, he brazenly picked the very day that the second decision was announced to reassert the Obama Doctrine—namely, that if Congress refuses to pass a political loser that Obama is championing, Obama will take the law into his own hands.

Politico reports:

President Barack Obama plans to take administrative actions in the coming months to address problems with the country’s immigration policies, he said Monday, acknowledging that House Speaker John Boehner has made it clear that the House will not vote on reform legislation this year.

“I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue and Congress chooses to do nothing,” Obama said in the Rose Garden. “And in this situation, the failure of the House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our economy” and bad for the country. . . .

The president summoned immigration advocates to the White House for a meeting before his speech, according to multiple sources who received invites—a meeting that was not listed on his public schedule.

Politico adds that “Obama told the 15 or so advocates assembled at the meeting that he will examine all options within his constitutional powers”—Obama’s own conception of his constitutional powers, that is—“to relieve deportations of undocumented immigrants, and he also asked the advocates for their recommendations, according to one person who attended the meeting.”

The way one can tell that Obama is backing a political loser is this: If he weren’t—if the citizenry’s congressional representatives were obstinately refusing to do their will—the president would be confident that voters would rectify this situation in November and would return his own party to power (as was the case before he stubbornly pushed Obamacare).  But no one expects voters to do this, and many if not most observers expect voters to install a Republican Senate through the upcoming election as well. Thus, Obama will act alone, in defiance of public will and—more importantly—of the constitutional separation of powers.

This is hardly the first time we’ve seen the Obama Doctrine in action, even on this particular issue. In the midst of the 2012 presidential campaign, Obama announced that he would no longer deport illegal immigrants under 30 years of age. This was pure lawlessness, even by his own earlier admission. When asked at a spring 2011 Univision town hall why he didn’t simply stop the deportation of young illegals via executive order, Obama replied:

With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books. . . . Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. . . . There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply, through executive order, ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.

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