The Washington Post

The president’s win-win strategy to ignore the Constitution

This morning, one of the warm-up acts, before the big Obamacare show, was successful for the president. The Supreme Court’s decision regarding the Arizona immigration law was a victory for those who do not want to inhibit illegal immigration and for those who legitimately believe that control of the borders is a federal responsibility.  Of course, this constitutional question arose because the federal government is not fulfilling its obligations. 

Ordinarily, I would not have a problem deferring to the decision of the court. However, we are in a temporary era where the checks and balances between our three branches of government — judiciary, legislative and executive — have been thwarted by a fourth branch that is Obama himself. The president has begun to go boldly where no president has gone before by declaring that he will ignore the laws he doesn’t like. So this Supreme Court decision is less relevant. 

I point to the president’s decision from earlier this month on immigration, where he unilaterally declared that he was no longer going to enforce the deportation of some illegal immigrants in the United States. This happened less than nine months after the president and constitutional scholar said, “I just have to continue to say this notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true. We are doing everything we can administratively. But the fact of the matter is there are laws on the books that I have to enforce. And I think there’s been a great disservice done to the cause of getting the Dream Act passed and getting comprehensive immigration passed by perpetrating the notion that somehow, by myself, I can go and do these things. It’s just not true.”

The president has gotten a lot of emboldening, positive reinforcement from that decision. It is good politics, and it has become a good wedge issue for him with Republicans. Why should he stop now? 

Obama must be thinking he is living in a win-win world. If the courts or the legislative branch give him what he wants, he gets what he wants. If the Courts or the Congress don’t give him what he wants, he does what he wants anyway, and his apologencia and enablers will cover for him. Immigration is still alive and well as a political issue, and the president has the advantage. The president has been given a victory, but I’m not sure he thought he needed it. 

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.


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