Loose with the law

Attorney general's pick-and-choose attitude toward enforcement creates a slippery slope

There are many things that make America exceptional.

The independent spirit of the Declaration of Independence, for instance – one of the few official “government” documents in human history that recognizes the sovereignty of the individual.

The Constitution, which protects that sovereignty.

And the fact that each of those two documents has led to what America is – which is a nation of laws, not men.

Our Founders broke away from a nation of authoritarian rule. Moreover, we have seen in recent days, in Russia and Ukraine, what happens when you live in a nation of rulers instead of rules.

So it is more than a little alarming to hear this country’s chief law enforcement officer – Attorney General Eric Holder – advise his attorney general colleagues at the state level that they don’t have to uphold any laws they disagree with.

That’s certainly been the meandering legal trail blazed by this administration – which expects its pet laws, such as Obamacare, to be implemented without objection (though with exceptions of its own making), but which also has allowed and encouraged laws on such things as immigration, marijuana and marriage to be ignored.

Isn’t that just a cabal of elites, at that point, making it up for all of us as they go along? Isn’t the official, executive-branch nullification of laws they disfavor an abrogation of their duty to uphold the laws of the land and the Constitution – which sets out clear roles for each of the three branches of government?

“It is not (the attorney general’s) job to make that call,” Joe Ferraro writes at the Huffington Post. “The courts are supposed to decide when a law is bad.

“When Eric Holder tells his crew not to go to court, he is killing the checks and balances. ... Knock the law down the proper way; bring the case before the court. The judge has to have the say as to whether it passes muster.”

And again, if the powerful are free to pick and choose what duly-passed laws they will deign to enforce, that’s legalistic and social chaos.

Leaders, be careful what you do to this nation of laws.

Ask yourself: Is it the special purview of
attorneys general to ignore laws they don’t like? Or just attorneys in general? If one goes to law school, then, laws become optional?

More fairly, if some in this country have given themselves the unilateral power to overturn laws in their own heads, then why can’t the rest of us? Isn’t there a clause in the Constitution that calls for equal protection of the laws for all of us?

We also wonder whether, if taken to its logical extreme, the take-it-or-leave-it bunch at the White House would go along with others doing what they’re doing – such as, say, future presidents and attorneys general.

What if the next set of leaders thought the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional? Could they not declare it null and void, as Mr. Holder has encouraged today’s attorneys general to do with defense-of-marriage laws?

And before you say, “Well, the Supreme Court has ruled it constitutional” – why would that matter in Eric Holder’s logic? In his way of thinking, he and his colleagues are allowed to nullify laws that the courts haven’t even definitively ruled on. Why should others who follow him be concerned with what the courts might have to say, if he isn’t?

There’s only one slippery slope that leads anywhere good, and that’s at a ski resort.

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