Last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) refreshed his list of all the ways President Barack Obama has flouted the Constitution by shouldering the legislative burden of Congress on his own shoulders.
On his official .gov page, Cantor outlined a new batch of “Recent Examples of the Executive Branch Refusing to Faithfully Execute the Law” under the heading “The Imperial Presidency.” He’s been keeping tabs on this since October of 2012, when he first issued a list of more than 40 separate examples “of the breakdown of the rule of law” under Obama.
Here are some of the latest highlights:
- Non-enforcement of Immigration Laws for Parents and Guardians. On August 23, 2013, the Obama administration issued a policy directive instructing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials not to enforce immigration laws in cases in which the illegal immigrant is the primary provider for a minor child, regardless of the child’s immigration status, or in which the illegal immigrant is the parent or legal guardian of a child who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. This is another example of President Obama abusing his authority and unilaterally refusing to enforce the immigration laws by directing officials to stop removing broad categories of unlawful immigrants.
- Unlawful Extension of Parole in Place. On November 15, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a policy memorandum providing that spouses, children, and parents of those who are serving-or who have previously served—in the Armed Forces of the United States could receive “parole-in-place” on a categorical basis. Notably, the parole statute, the regulations, and the legislative history do not seem to contemplate parole for: (1) aliens who are already in the United States illegally, (2) an entire category of people, or (3) an indefinite period of time. Extending parole in place in this manner is a re-write of the law.
Suspending Criminal Laws
Amending Statutory Mandatory Minimums by Executive Decree.
On August 12, 2013, Attorney General Holder announced in a speech to the American Bar Association changes in federal mandatory minimum sentencing policy regarding low-level, non-violent drug offenders. Although Members of Congress may agree with many of the policy issues Attorney General Holder outlined in his announcement, reform regarding mandatory minimums is constitutionally required to come from Congress. But rather than work with Congress to address issues with mandatory minimums, the Obama administration re-wrote federal law by executive fiat.
Recent Judicial Decisions
Nuclear Waste Disposal:
The original Imperial Presidency report noted how the Administration was refusing to implement the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. On August 13, 2013, a Federal Court of Appeals found that the Obama Administration was indeed not in compliance with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and issued a writ of mandamus compelling compliance.
Net Neutrality Rules:
The original Imperial Presidency report noted how the Administration’s appointees to the FCC were attempting to illegally impose net neutrality rules on the internet. In January 2014, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit decided a case brought by Verizon against the FCC, appealing the FCC’s second attempt at imposing net neutrality. Again, the court found that the FCC lacked the authority to apply common carrier rules — those designed for monopoly era telephone networks — on the Internet.
War on Coal:
The original Imperial Presidency report detailed a variety of extra-legal steps the Administration was taking as part of its “war on coal.” Since then, the EPA took the unprecedented step of unilaterally and retroactively revoking a Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 dredge or fill permit that had already been issued by the Corps for a coal mine (the Spruce Mine) in West Virginia, even though EPA was involved throughout the permit application process and the permittee had complied with their permit ever since it was issued three years earlier. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, recently overruled EPA’s permit revocation action, ruling that EPA did not have the authority under the CWA to revoke a permit that the Corps had already issued. Not content with the Federal Court’s ruling that placed limitations on EPA’s authority, the Obama Administration has appealed the court’s ruling in hopes of validating their quest for expanded regulatory authority under the CWA. If EPA is allowed to prevail in this action, projects all around the country will be in danger of having their permits revoked any time EPA so chooses.
Cantor’s Obamacare list, borrowed from The Washington Post (of all places), is too long to list. You can see that, as well as his ongoing report on many of Obama’s other Constitutional infringements, here.