As much as it would be convenient for me and helpful to book sales to attack President Obama’s initiative on guns as “lawless,” at least judging by the fact sheet the White House put out last night, I don’t see anything lawless here. Josh Blackman, who analyzes the fact sheet here, and like me is a strong and vocal critic of the Obama administration’s dubious assertions of executive authority, seems to agree.
I can’t tell you why the Obama administration decided to be so much more modest about pushing the limits of executive authority in the context of gun control than it has about a wide range of other issues, from climate change to Obamacare to war in the Middle East to immigration.
But I’m hoping there’s a sense that criticism of the president’s unilateralism is starting to become politically damaging to the Democrats, because the only way in the long run that presidents are likely to be restrained from abusing their authority is if there is a political price to pay. Regardless of whether your favored candidate for president is Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, a sense that presidents are politically constrained from undermining the separation of powers should be a welcome development.