justice

Blind Disrespect for Rule of Law

When did we become a monarchy?

The Obama administration has announced a dramatic move to placate the rising anger of Hispanic communities across America by offering a partial Dream Act to young law-abiding immigrants without documents who will now no longer live under the threat of deportation and will have the right to work.

This is effective immediately. The President is making angry people happy–angry people who might not vote unless they are made happy–angry people who might make other people angry. And why are they angry? Well, because some of us believe that our duly enacted laws should be enforced. Not all of us believe that, however:

“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” said the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”

Excuse me? Did I read that right? I though the whole point of having laws was to blindly enforce them. If we do not do so, then the laws are discriminatory in the worst possible way. Is not Justice blind?

It is not Homeland Security’s job to be merciful or gracious to anyone or exercise discretion. Its job is to apply the law. Mercy comes from judges who are to consider mitigating factors and the greater context of each case.

Why in the world is the Executive Branch making law? The Dream Act did not pass Congress. Therefore, it is not law. Obama has no authority whatsoever to implement his own mini-Dream Act.

The one aspect of the Dream Act that is yet to be achieved is the right to citizenship or permanent residency for young undocumented immigrants.

Kelley said that the battle for that reform would continue. “We need Congress to step up and finish the job,” she said.

Yes, Congress needs to finish the job–the job of telling the President that he’s not a Congress of One.

3 thoughts on “Blind Disrespect for Rule of Law

  1. What nonsense. Of course there is discretion, and prosecutors at every level of government use it all the time. Furthermore, Obama’s predecessor beat all records with his signing statements attached to signed legislation, effectively rewriting laws Congress passed. Obama has used a total of 20 signing statements, compared with 8 in Bush’s first term and 161 over all. Bush signed almost 300 Executive Orders during his two terms; Obama has signed 116 so far during his term.

    1. SRM,

      Discretion might be an honest term if we were talking about individual cases. We are not. Yes, judges and prosecutors must decide what to do in each case–but we are not talking about each case. We are talking about telling an entire group of individuals who are knowingly breaking the law that they don’t have anything to worry about since the law will not be enforced. This is no different, in principle, from informing commuters that all 35-55 yr drivers having at least 10 yrs experience driving without a license or insurance will not be penalized for lacking licenses or insurance. I should hope we could see the foolishness of that.

      Either laws should be enforced, or they should be repealed. The Department of Homeland Security was, I had thought, in the business of securing the homeland, primarily through the enforcement of applicable laws. Law enforcement is to, well, enforce the law without regard to individual situations. Back to my statement about justice being blind: if laws are not enforced evenly, then there is favoritism under the law. Favoritism under the law is a sure sign of a inequitable society. Favoritism under the law was what led, in part, to the American Civil War. People were told that they were not the same in the eyes of the law based on the amount of melanin in their skin.

      The Dream Act, of which this is a subset, was brought before Congress and not voted into law. The President’s end run around that decision-making body is wrong. This is not a signing statement. This is an un-signing statement.

      Comparisons of GWB and current president and how many times they had signing statements is getting away from the matter at hand. George Bush is not the president. Barack Obama is. The decision to ignore Congress with regard to the Dream Act was his, not George Bush’s. The call for Congress to finish the job is nothing but chutzpah–considering that Congress already looked at this job and said “No.”

  2. correction, must have mistyped, Bush was over 100 signing statements his first term. It is estimated his statements represented around 1100 challenges to Congressional legislation.

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