exemptions

Obama’s Constitutional Belief That He Can Ignore Laws Passed By Congress Doesn’t Apply to Civil Rights

Oh, this is just delicious. As we’ve noted on previous occasions, the Obama administration is no enemy of executive orders and fancy ways to execute power plays. The White House has made clear it’s just fine using signing statements to bypass laws, passed by Congress, that it deems, by way of the Constitution, too limiting on executive power. Remember those checks and balances the three branches of government are supposed to create? Fin. And now, according to a New York Times report citing “officials,” “the administration will consider itself free to disregard new laws it considers unconstitutional, especially in cases where it has previously voiced objections elsewhere.” That is: If Obama said before he didn’t like a law, and it gets passed anyway, he needn’t address it again in order to ignore it. Curious!

Why bring all this up — which, to some, might sound just like what the Bush administration did in rampant abuses of power — now? “The White House disclosed its shift when asked why it had not put out a signing statement last month, when Mr. Obama signed a $447 billion spending bill for 2010. It contained several provisions that restricted executive power in ways that the administration had previously asserted were unconstitutional — including in signing statements attached to similar bills and in policy statements it issued about the spending bill as lawmakers drew it up.”

Adorable, because the one arena the Obama administration most notably refuses to insert his executive power is in righting unconstitutional discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans. All the more amusing, then, that one of Obama’s biggest Congressional apologizers over the White House’s refusal to revoke DOMA and DADT is actually calling out the president on his policy:

Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, who led last summer’s backlash, said the White House risked losing Congressional support for international economic organizations. Mr. Frank also said it was “outrageous” to contend that if Congress disagreed with the administration’s opinion that a provision would be unconstitutional, the president could sign the bill and disobey it.

“They have a legitimate right to tell us their constitutional concerns — that’s different from having a signing statement,” Mr. Frank said. “Anyone who makes the argument that ‘once we have told you we have constitutional concerns and then you pass it anyway, that justifies us in ignoring it’ — that is a constitutional violation. Those play very different roles and you can’t bootstrap one into the other.”

It’s like playing Whack a Mole, but with hypocrites.