The Obama Administration continues to reveal a lack of respect for the U.S. Constitution and the form of government it set up. On Wednesday, February 23rd, the Department of Justice announced that it would no longer defend a federal law (Public Law No. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419; Short title, Defense of Marriage Act) which was duly passed by Congress and signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. This is just the latest in a series of actions that indicate the Administration has no intention of limiting itself to its constitutional authority. Among its transgressions, it has:
Refused to enforce immigration laws
Deliberately ignored court rulings stating Administration actions are unlawful
Exceeded its authority and violated states’ rights
If one were to believe the contention that the President is a constitutional scholar, then the only conclusion to be reached is that he, unilaterally and through his Administration, is deliberately violating the authority vested to the Executive Branch by the Constitution.
In a letter to Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote (emphasis added):
“After careful consideration, including review of a recommendation from me, the President of the United States has made the determination that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), 1 U.S.C. § 7, i as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment. “
“Furthermore, pursuant to the President’s instructions, and upon further notification to Congress, I will instruct Department attorneys to advise courts in other pending DOMA litigation of the President’s and my conclusions that a heightened standard should apply, that Section 3 is unconstitutional under that standard and that the Department will cease defense of Section 3.”
Since when does the President of the United States get to decide that a law is unconstitutional? Is that not the purview of the Judicial Branch of government? If the President believes this to be the case, then his duty is to request a ruling by the Supreme Court as to its constitutionality. It is the job of the Judicial Branch, not the Executive Branch, to decide whether a law is constitutional.
I find this quite odd, since in a White House Press Briefing on February 18th, the following exchange took place (emphasis added):
Q: Robert, last week the Justice Department filed a brief with the First Circuit Court of Appeals defending the Defense of Marriage Act against two lawsuits. President Obama has called this law discriminatory and said it should be repealed. But that seems unlikely any time soon now because given the current makeup of Congress. Is there any consideration in the administration to dropping defense of DOMA in court and declaring the law unconstitutional?
MR. GIBBS: Well, we can’t declare the law unconstitutional. But I’m just trying to make sure I understood that portion of the question correctly. Obviously I think the — if you look at what was written, I think the President enumerates in there — the administration enumerates in there our belief on this law as we balance the obligation that we have to represent the federal government.
The President believes, as you said, that this is a law that should not exist and should be repealed. But we, at the same time, have to represent the viewpoint of the defendant.
Yet that’s exactly what they did! What changed between February 18th and February 23rd?
The Presidential Oath of Office reads:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.“