Hot on the heels of his last column, "College Rape: Those Sluts Are Making It All Up" comes Washington Post carbuncle George F. Will's newest masterpiece, "Will Nobody Rid Me Of This Troublesome Black President?"
Regarding immigration, health care, welfare, education, drug policy and more, Obama has suspended, waived and rewritten laws, including the Affordable Care Act. It required the employer mandate to begin this year. But Obama wrote a new law, giving to companies of a certain size a delay until 2016 and stipulating that other employers must certify they will not drop employees to avoid the mandate. Doing so would trigger criminal perjury charges; so he created a new crime, that of adopting a business practice he opposes.
Presidents must exercise some discretion in interpreting laws, must have some latitude in allocating finite resources to the enforcement of laws and must have some freedom to act in the absence of law. Obama, however, has perpetrated more than 40 suspensions of laws. Were presidents the sole judges of the limits of their latitude, they would effectively have plenary power to vitiate the separation of powers, the Founders’ bulwark against despotism.
Congress cannot reverse egregious executive aggressions such as Obama’s without robust judicial assistance. It is, however, difficult to satisfy the criteria that the Constitution and case law require for Congress to establish “standing” to seek judicial redress for executive usurpations injurious to the legislative institution.
Got that? The President has the authority to do what he's doing, but not this President because the courts and Congress need to step in. Otherwise, it's the plenary executive. It took me all of 60 seconds to Google up a George F. Will column saying the plenary executive under the last President was worthy of debate when it came to John Yoo, warrantless wiretapping, and the NSA.
Without more information than can be publicly available concerning threats from enemies operating in America, the executive branch deserves considerable discretion in combating terrorist conspiracies using new technologies such as cell phones and the Internet. In September 2001, the president surely had sound reasons for desiring the surveillance capabilities at issue.
But did he have sound reasons for seizing them while giving only minimal information to, and having no formal complicity with, Congress? Perhaps. But Congress, if asked, almost certainly would have made such modifications of law as the president's plans required. Courts, too, would have been compliant. After all, on Sept. 14, 2001, Congress had unanimously declared that "the president has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism," and it had authorized "all necessary and appropriate force" against those involved in Sept. 11 or threatening future attacks.
Will's biggest problem with Bush was that he should have told Congress, because Congress and the courts would have rubber-stamped Bush's efforts and would have made it look official. When both Congress and the Supreme Court signed off on the Affordable Care Act, somehow it makes Obama lawless in order to do what's necessary to make the law work and get the American people affordable health care coverage.
When the goal is open lying to Congress, the Courts, and the American people about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and then bombing the hell out of Iraq, Will's got no problem. When the goal is to correct the issues in a law that provides health insurance for Americans, that's lawlessness that must be stopped by whatever means necessary, including Will's solution, House Republicans suing the President in front of the Supreme Court, an unprecedented step that has never been considered before in American history.