Obama’s decision subverts Constitution
Published: Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 14:03
President Obama has decided that he will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act — a law that establishes that for the purposes of the federal government, marriage is between a man and a woman — in court.
When people choose to challenge the law in court, the Obama administration simply won't be there to defend the law, improving the chances for legal victories for potential challengers of the bill.
To me, this is a complete outrage, particularly coming from someone who is a former professor of constitutional law. By doing this, the president is essentially not doing part of his job. He has a responsibility under Article II, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."
This means it is his job to enforce the federal laws of this country. He doesn't get to pick and choose which laws he is going to enforce. Obama knows this better than anybody, and if George W. Bush had pulled a stunt like this with a law he didn't like, we would have been criticizing him like never before.
This is an act of absolute hypocrisy from someone who campaigned on a promise to return to constitutional values.
My grievance with him has absolutely nothing to do with the gay community, and everything to do with him doing the runaround on the constitution. He has called for the repeal of the law, saying it is discriminatory, and that it is the proper way for him to fight the law, rather than simply not defend it.
Gay-rights groups everywhere hailed his decision, as if it is somehow going to benefit their agenda but what Obama's move will actually do is energize the Republican Party. Nothing fires up the conservative base like social issues, and this one is a doozy. This is easy red meat for Republicans to feed to their conservative base, and it's going to drive them to the polls in a hurry.
Obama is already perceived as a radical president by some, and independent voters might also view this step as extreme, and he is helping to reinforce that perception with moves like this one. He's going to wind up losing both houses of Congress, and possibly his own re-election.
Obama has nothing to gain politically from what he has chosen to do. He may create short-term victories by essentially giving opponents of the law an upper hand in court, but judges could still decide against opponents of this legislation.
I sincerely doubt that gay-rights groups would criticize Obama for upholding the constitution as his job requires. Also, where else are they going to go? They may not be fully satisfied with the response that Obama and the Democrats have shown toward gay rights, but it is almost guaranteed to hit the back burner if Republicans take over Congress and the White House.
If he is "struggling" with this issue as he claims, then he has other options at his disposal. Fighting for repeal of this bill is the best and constitutional way forward, and he should throw the full weight of his office behind this approach if he is serious about this.
Obama does not have the authority to determine which laws are constitutional and which ones are not. That authority rests with our judicial system. If the law makes its way through the legal process and is invalidated by the federal court system, then he has the right to no longer enforce the law. Unless they say it's unconstitutional, however, it is his job to enforce the law.
For those of you that think he is being a hero for gay rights, think again. There is absolutely nothing heroic about what he is doing. He is choosing not to enforce a law that was signed by Bill Clinton when he was in office. Surely he isn't implying that Clinton signed something unconstitutional into law.
The only way forward that honors our constitution is for him to continue to push for Congress to repeal this bill, but for him to just choose not to enforce this law is wrong and unconstitutional.
This is not the kind of change that I can believe in.