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.

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  • Jigae

    It’s incredibly depressing because as disenchanted as I am with this administration, I simultaneously realize that he was our best choice and our next President will probably be worse.

    How do we change the system?

  • Jigae

    Multi-party system? Campaign finance reform? Just give up and accept we’re a corporate oligarchy and democrats and republicans are almost exactly the same, except more embarrassed to be in the pockets of big business?

  • W.

    The legal route seems more promising. But far too many gay people gave this man their vote even though his history (and questionable friendships) should have been a huge red flag.

  • Steven

    I think this is his website: tfccal.org

  • wondermann

    So basically, the post is a huge assumption. Ok, NEXT

  • christopher di spirito

    I am incredibly frustrated with the snails pace of the Obama administration vis a vis the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA.

    But, I am confident he will add it to the unimaginably long list of things to accomplish in his first term.

    There’s not a day that passes that I regret Obama won the primary and not Hillary Clinton. Hillary — while a peculiar sort of surrogate mother to many gay men, is a member of “The Family” and is on record (See: the LOGO/HRC sit down with Obama) stating she’s opposed to the repeal of DOMA, only Article 3.

  • Mean Homo

    We-heyell, tawlk abaut oh-dacitee!!! I sure am glad I didn’t vote for “change”!!! Serves you fuckers right. THINK the next time you vote. It’s our country. Not American Idol.

  • Todd

    McCain’s wife wanted to be on dancing with the stars after loosing the election! She’s a nut, and Palin would have been the vice president? Think about that one Mean Homo, I’m glad Obama won!

  • Sean

    Name one thing that Michelle Obama and Joe Biden have done for gay people. Something substantive. ONE THING.

  • christopher di spirito

    Michelle Obama ISN’T an elected official. Your point is mute.

    Then Sen. Joe Biden voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage and voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.

    Substantive enough, for you?

  • jazlynn

    This is the biggest waste of an article I ever read. The economy fcked up, there’s two wars going on, potential terror attacks….and bitching about being put on the bottom of Obamas priorities? Its where you belong

  • Kris

    I believe and so will some of you that “Obama will be considered one of the best presidents we have ever seen”. Although I’m mad as hell about him moving like a snail, I still believe in him. He’s got 3 more years people, are you ready to push him out now?!?

    Some of the “white rasist” people on here, would love to do that and nail him to a cross. I’m spiritual not religious.

  • Kris


  • terrwill

    No. 13 · Kris: Where is the option for spellcheck on this thing??? : P

    Unfortunately we elected a person 9 years ago who was basicaly a puppet whos actions were determined by a truly evil person whom had a tremendous amount of knowledge about how to circumvent the constition. Dickless Cheney is truly and evil genius. Problem is that his powers were not destroyed once he left the dark room from which he ruled. They were simply left there for the next administration to use. Obama hasn’t done much good for us. But McCain and Scarah Pallin would have done a lot more damage to us………….

  • Brian NJ

    I wish the morons who say things like, “Obama has a duty to defend DOMA and DADT!” would wake up and learn that the White does what the White House wants, the White House gets what the White House wants — just not in the case of YOU, OBAMABOT.

  • MaxH

    Oh dear God, people, his terms are over, you can stop Bush-bashing now. I didn’t like Bush for this same reason! We can’t give Obama the same right to a free pass to ignore laws that Congress passes just ’cause he wants to.

    We’re a year into the presidency. He can still blame the economy on decisions made in the previous administration, but Bush/Cheney weren’t evil, or stupid. They were just wrong.

  • MaxH

    I meant to say he can still blame the economy on the last administration, but we can’t blame him for all the world’s ills, as some people seem to want to do.

  • Caleb

    The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress were dealt a raw deal with the economy, but rather than make any substantive efforts to correct the situation, they focused on healthcare reform. Now we will pass a handicapped, dumbed down version of what the few of us who cared about healthcare reform actually would have wanted and it will prove to be a useless piece of legislation. Meanwhile we’re still lingering around a 10% unemployment rate.

    Forget about gay issues. What exactly has the Obama administration done at all in its first year. Sadly the hate crimes bill seesm to be the only thing the administration and the majority party has done for anyone, gay or otherwise. I guess we should be happy about that.

    The Democrats are given a chance to really bring change to this country and they, as usual, cave to big business pressure and their own concerns about reelection and get nothing done.

    Meanwhile we’re still at war (and losing in Afghanistan for the most part) and terrorist groups are reforming in other nations knowing we can’t do much about it. I voted proudly for Obama (though I was a Hillary supporter) because he was a better choice than McCain. I’m not entirely convinced that isn’t still the case, though I am beginning to wonder if the Republicans are really any worse.

  • InExile

    This administration is doing a horrible job period. Obama seems to do the opposite of what he had promised in his campaign with everything.

    Next time many of us will not vote for the less of two evils, we will stay home.

    Such a shame, we could have had someone competent in office now, at least LGBT equality seems to be moving forward in the State Department. In fact the only good news for gays seems to come from the State Department these days.

  • dontblamemeivotedforhillary

    To quote the New York Times, we’ve been “Bam-boozled!” So, Obama is out in 2012 – a friend of mine said that he survived Reagan and AIDS, Both Bush’s and will survive, even a President Palin. The Democrats are coming undone as all the racist, back-stabbing, misogynist, rampantly homophobic, under-handed rhetoric shines a light on a Party that I will never support while there are third party options who support my Civil Rights and treat women equally on the campaign trail. We can resist the duopoly if we just stop sucking on the teat of the seemingly least abusive of our oppressors in power.

  • MaxH

    The problem with third parties is that winning would be nigh on impossible unless we banded together for one person, instead of all voting for different candidates.

    I liked Ron Paul myself. That’s where MY vote went.

    But people that support the third parties either want a lot more government, or a lot less, and they’re divided about how to accomplish that, and who to elect to get it done.

  • InExile

    #20 Love your name! I also voted for Hillary.

    All of what we are witnessing now is not a surprise. After watching the dirtiest most dishonest campaign ever, none of this should be a surprise! What should we expect from someone who never held a real job or had any accomplishments or experience?

  • MaxH

    Someone who never held a real job or had any accomplishments? Are you high?

    He was a Senator, a civil rights attorney, and a professor at the University of Chicago’s law school for TWELVE YEARS.

    And it’s RICH that a Hillary supporter should wax poetic about Obama’s lack of experience.

    I didn’t vote for Obama, but let’s not LIE about the man.

  • Herbo

    jazlynn – you are a dumb cunt, go wait on the back of the bus for your rights.

  • Herbo

    amen # 20

    The Dems are pathetic
    they may not be jesus freaks – but they sure no how to pass shitty healthcare bills, keep wars going and depleting our infrastructure.

  • B

    Let’s put all this in perspective.

    From the NY Times article that QUEERTY cited above:

    “Last year the Obama administration disregarded a statute that forbid State Department officials to attend United Nations meetings led by nations deemed state sponsors of terrorism. Congress has included that restriction in several recent bills.

    “When Mr. Bush signed one such bill, he issued a signing statement instructing officials to view the law as merely advisory, and they attended at least one such meeting on his watch. By contrast, when Mr. Obama signed another bill with an identical provision, he did not specifically single it out for challenge. But his administration later obtained an Office of Legal Counsel opinion pronouncing it unconstitutional, and officials continued to attend such meetings.”

    The opinion is at http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/2009/section7054.pdf and states in part, ” As ample
    precedent demonstrates, however, Congress’s power to legislate in the foreign affairs area does
    not include the authority to attempt to dictate the modes and means by which the President
    engages in international diplomacy with foreign countries and through international fora.
    Section 7054 constitutes an attempt to exercise just such authority: It effectively denies the
    President the use of his preferred agents—representatives of the State Department—to
    participate in delegations to specified U.N. entities chaired or presided over by certain countries.
    As this Office has explained, such statutory restrictions are impermissible because the
    President’s constitutional authority to conduct diplomacy bars Congress from attempting to
    determine the “form and manner in which the United States . . . maintain[s] relations with
    foreign nations.” Issues Raised by Provisions Directing Issuance of Official or Diplomatic
    Passports, 16 Op. O.L.C. 18, 21 (1992) (citing Issues Raised by Foreign Relations Authorization
    Bill, 14 Op. O.L.C. 37, 38 (1990)).”

  • dontblamemeivotedforhillary

    I thought the Right-wingers would have done a documentary on Hillary Versus Obama called ‘Bros Before Hos’ as they chanted in the Projects!

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