When a Republican President Does It, It's Not Illegal


On Monday nine state attorneys general, all of them Republicans, issued a memo that lists "21 illegal actions" by the Obama administration. "This president and his administration, in my view, represent the greatest set of lawbreakers that have run the federal government in our lifetimes," Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said at a press conference. "The fact is, President Obama and his appointees have ignored federal laws, they've ignored binding rulings of federal courts, and they've ignored the limits on their power mandated by the Constitution." Cuccinelli and his colleagues call themselves "the last line of defense against an increasingly overreaching federal government." Too bad this line of defense is so leaky and so contingent on partisan politics.

Cuccinelli et al.'s list of "Obama Administration Violations" includes the individual health insurance mandate, the regulation requiring employers to provide medical coverage that includes contraceptives, the FCC's "net neutrality" initiative, various questionable actions by the EPA and other regulatory agencies, and federal challenges to state laws dealing with voting, immigration, and union organizing. The legal case against many of these federal actions is strong, though not always the slam-dunk that the nine attorneys general imply. But the list conspicuously omits illegal or unconstitutional policies in which both Obama and his predecessor are implicated, such as the automaker bailouts (begun as an illegal use of TARP money under George W. Bush, continued under Obama with the added twist of rewriting bankruptcy law on the fly), warrantless surveillance of communications involving people in the United States (begun illegally under Bush, now authorized by legislation Obama supported, but still a Fourth Amendment problem), indefinite detention of terrorism suspects (begun under Bush, continued under Obama), summary execution of terrorism suspects in other countries (contemplated by Bush, practiced and publicly defended by Obama), the FCC's unconstitutional indecency regulations (enforced under Bush and Obama), unauthorized wars (actually more of a problem under Obama than Bush, but Republicans want to preserve military lattitude for their guys), and interference with state laws allowing the medical use of marijuana (meddling that was approved during the Bush adminstration by Gonzales v. Raich, which endorsed the absurdly broad reading of the Commerce Clause that is now used to defend ObamaCare). Cuccinelli is a leading opponent of the theory that failing to buy government-prescribed health insurance is interstate commerce, but he seems to have no problem with the idea that a marijuana plant on a cancer patient's windowsill is. And that's leaving aside all the myriad things the federal government does, from regulating education to launching spacecraft, with the approval of both major parties but without constitutional authority. If Cuccinelli and his friends were serious about resisting "an increasingly overreaching federal government," they would not be so selective in their indictment of Obama.

[via The Examiner]