Obama’s autocratic abuses

Cato Institute vice president Gene Healy, writing in The Washington Examiner, lays bare the myriad constitutional problems with Barack Obama’s policy of bypassing Congress and ruling by decree.

In a Rose Garden speech Friday, President Obama announced that per a “Homeland Security Directive,” his administration had called a halt to deportation proceedings for certain unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors. The eligibility criteria stated in the order roughly tracks the requirements of the Dream Act, which has never quite been able to make it through Congress. A mere technicality, the president suggested: it’s “the right thing to do for the American people.”…

…As it happens, Obama’s “royal dispensation” for young immigrants is hardly the most terrifying instance of administration unilateralism. In fact, as a policy matter, it’s a humane and judicious use of prosecutorial resources.

But given the context, it stinks. It looks uncomfortably like implementing parts of a bill that didn’t pass, and — carried out as it was with great fanfare and an eye to the impending election — the move sits uneasily with the president’s constitutional responsibility to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

The University of Chicago’s Richard Epstein warns that “government by waiver” is “among the most serious challenges to the rule of law in our time.” The growth of the administrative state has concentrated enormous discretionary power in the president’s hands, and he can use that power to reward political allies and legislate by decree without the inconvenience of democratic deliberation.

Go here to read the full column.

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