Barack Obama

Following the Law Needs to Start at the Top, President Obama

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In USA Today, Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds looks askance at people counseling Barack Obama to ignore the Supreme Court if it rules against Obamacare subsidies in King v. Burwell or against his immigration actions.

…if Obama were to violate a high court decision, he wouldn't be the first president to do so. President Andrew Jackson, after all, ignored the justices' decision in favor of the Cherokee Nation in Worcester v. Georgia and sent the Cherokees on the Trail of Tears. His picture is on the $20 bill today, and although there's now a move to replace him, it's motivated more by a desire to have a woman on U.S. currency than by any disgust over Jackson's lawlessness….

Of course, it's not simply Obama who skirts the laws he would impose on others. As Reynolds points out, all too often, people at all levels of government abrogate all sorts of procedures and processes when it's convenient. That creates a corrosive, cynical situation, says Reynolds:

First, they must generally approve of the law: Maybe not of every individual provision, but they have to believe that, in general, the laws are just rather than unfair. Second, they have to feel reasonably confident that most others will obey the law, too: People like to feel like good citizens, but they don't like to feel like suckers. Finally, they have to feel as if the people in charge also respect the law. Examples are set at the top, and if the government treats unwelcome laws as unworthy of respect, you can expect the populace to feel the same way.

Whole thing here.

That way madness and lawlessness lie (lay?).

In his great Historical Baseball Abstract, philosopher and occasional sportswriter Bill James put it this way in a discussion of "blocking the plate," a time-honored but technically illegal tactic used by catchers (see page 216):

So it is, Bill James, so it is.

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9 responses to “Following the Law Needs to Start at the Top, President Obama

  1. You referenced Bill James and his work.

    This outrage will not stand!

  2. “Irony: Andrew Jackson On a Federal Reserve Note”

  3. If Obama can ignore the Supreme Court then we can ignore Obamacare — sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

    Examples are set at the top, and if the government treats unwelcome laws as unworthy of respect, you can expect the populace to feel the same way.

    The irony is that we need more of this. I know Glenn Reynolds is steeped in the legal system but legal systems everywhere are fundamentally based on positive law. Less rule of law, more rule of liberty

    The problems with that quote from the Historical Baseball Abstract, are that it ignores unjust laws, and that virtually all laws are arbitrary and selective, so his cited issue about discretion in enforcement, which ironically is part of the law, is still there within the law itself.

  4. I imagine Andrew Jackson would be very pleased to be removed from the $20.00 Federal Reserve Note.

  5. Progressives hate the rule of law. It is right there in the name and skirting the rule of law is one of their basic tenants. How can you do big things, make progress, if your hands are tied by the law?

    Obumbles does what he can get away with. He doesn’t give a shit about the law.

  6. The hook for Reynolds’ column is a poll saying that 24% said that Obama should ignore a Supreme Court ruling unfavorable to Obamacare. From that, Nick hops to this:

    “Of course, it’s not simply Obama who skirts the laws he would impose on others.”

    I guess I missed a step, or Nick did, since Obama has yet to refuse to obey an S.Ct. ruling.* But, in fact, all administrations pick and choose which laws they’re going to enforce and how they do it. Did Nick support the jailing of Tommy Chong, because to do otherwise would be to “skirt” the law banning the sale of drug paraphernalia? Is Nick mad that Obama is “skirting” the anti-porno laws that the Reagan Administration devised and enforced so vigorously? As Reason frequently points out, we have far too many laws. It’s entirely necessary for administrations to pick and choose which ones they’ll enforce.

    *A Supreme Court ruling isn’t really a law, but, well, never mind.

  7. That Bill James quote really came out of left field. (And by the by, blocking the plate is illegal again.)

  8. Laws do not apply to Kings, like Mayor Rahm Emanuel:
    http://www.cwbchicago.com/2015…..e-red.html

  9. It’s entirely necessary for administrations to pick and choose which ones they’ll enforce.

    This makes each law arbitrary and makes you subject to the whims of a wannabe tyrant. If this is allowed, then there is no “law” in any meaningful sense.

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