The Aroma of Illegality
It’s getting stronger, that stench of illegality, and it’s emanating from places high as well as low.
For the last few weeks, Madison, Wisconsin, has been Malodorous Central, as various government employees, from the 14 Fleebagging Democratic state senators to protesting teachers and sundry public union apparatchiks, have endeavored to substitute mob rule for the rule of law. “After the vote on collective bargaining in the Wisconsin Senate,” John Hinderaker reports at Powerline, “armed guards led Republican Senators through a tunnel, out of the Capitol and onto a waiting bus, which reportedly was commandeered for the purpose on an emergency basis. A howling mob of union members threatened the Republicans, shouted obscenities and pounded on the bus.”
Useful data point: the mobs were howling because a majority of their duly elected officials had just passed legislation that they had, while campaigning a few months back, promised to lobby for. No one should have been surprised by Scott Walker’s efforts to get Wisconsin’s finances under control: he just did what he had promised to do if elected. And he was elected. And elections, as President Obama said long, long ago, in what seems like another country, “have consequences.” (The rest of that famous quotation: “at the end of the day, I won.” Imagine if Scott Walker had said that!)
Madison has distinguished itself for thuggishness. But that “get-a-little-bloody” sort of activism (thank you, Congressman Capuano) is only one facet of the illegality that is wafting about the republic. A small fuss was made a week or two ago when President Obama announced that he was directing his Department of Justice to forgo enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act, that somewhat desperate prop to “traditional” marriage (one man, one woman) that Bill Clinton reluctantly signed into law in 1996. Many of Obama’s critics cried foul, claiming that he was abrogating his Constitutional duty to uphold the law. In fact, as Andy McCarthy pointed out at NRO, presidents regularly decline to enforce statutes they believe are unconstitutional. “The problem with what the Obama administration is doing with DOMA,” Andy observed, “is political, not legal.”
Nothing requires a president to defend or enforce a law he truly believes is unconstitutional, or even a law he believes is constitutional but chooses, in his discretion, not to enforce as a matter of policy (see, e.g., Obama on the immigration laws).
Putting the law to the side, it is outrageous for an administration to use its Justice Department’s privileged position as the lawyer for the United States to sabotage a case, and for a president to claim his legal position is evolving when, in fact, he is transparently pandering to a key constituency.
Obama and Eric “My People” Holder may natter on about “equal protection.” That’s just talk, though. What they care about is not the 14th Amendment but their political program. Example: if you are a white voter in Philadelphia, you don’t get equal protection from armed Black Panthers who strut about polling places. And if some nebbish in the Justice Department who hasn’t gotten the message brings a suit against the Panthers, a higher-up (maybe even “My People” Holder himself) can quietly drop the suit when he thinks no one is paying attention. Sniff, sniff: catch that acrid scent? Just wait: when the governor of Arizona decides to enforce the state’s immigration laws, it is the work of a moment for “My People” Holder to file a federal suit seeking to declare the law “invalid.” Now you smell it, don’t you?