A political science professor of mine once said that “some people in America consider the Constitution very important.” I should hope so. It is the very foundation of all law in our country, and the single document through which our rights are protected.
The Constitution ensures that the government cannot oppress its people, and gives individual states the right to handle matters not specifically assigned to the federal government. So should “some” people consider it very important? Or is it, in fact, very important to all of us – whether we choose to realize it or not?
Yesterday, President Obama announced that his Justice Department will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. For those on the left this is a major victory. They have been waiting for DOMA to be repealed ever since President Bill Clinton (Yes, a Democrat) signed it into law in 1996.
For anyone who does not know, DOMA allows states to choose not to recognize gay marriages, partnerships or unions from other states where they are legal, and provides no federal recognition of same-sex relationships whatsoever. This has been a major sticking point for the gay marriage movement, because no matter how many states legalize gay marriage, there will be no federal benefits for gay couples.
For the record, I believe marriage is a state issue. It always has been, and nowhere in the Constitution does it mention marriage falling under the responsibility of the federal government. Therefore, I happen to personally feel that DOMA is unconstitutional. If a state decides gays can marry legally, or enter into domestic partnerships or civil unions, the federal government should be obligated to recognize the laws of that state – so long as they do not conflict with federal law.
I also believe that any state has the right to choose not to recognize a marriage from another state. Keep in mind this would not be an issue if the federal government stayed out of marriage altogether. I still have no idea why the federal government gives anyone special benefits because they are married. That is the very definition of “special rights,” whether you are traditionally married or gay married.
The 14th Amendment, which is cited so often in protecting marriage recognition across state lines, simply states that “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”
That means no state can deny you rights protected by the federal government. However it does not prevent states from denying you rights protected by other states. Example: You have a concealed weapons permit from Nevada. You own a gun, and are allowed – by Nevada law – to carry it concealed on your person, within the laws set forth in Nevada.
You are not allowed, however, to bring that gun to Maine – unless you obtain a concealed carry permit from Maine. Maine will deny your right – protected by Nevada – to carry a concealed weapon, until such time as you obtain that right from Maine. Meanwhile, Illinois does not allow any concealed weapons at all. Therefore, Illinois will deny your right – protected by Nevada – to carry a concealed weapon.
So clearly states have the right to have different laws from other states, and the Constitution does not force them to recognize privileges you’ve obtained from other states.
So while the left celebrates Obama’s refusal to enforce DOMA, the rest of America is wondering why this president feels he has the power to choose which laws are valid and which are not. As stated in Article 2, Section 3, of the U.S. Constitution, “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” DOMA is currently the law, and therefore President Obama is constitutionally obligated to enforce it – whether he likes it or not.
Imagine, for a moment, if George W. Bush decided that he did not personally approve of Roe v. Wade, and chose to overturn it. “I will no longer enforce protections to allow abortions.” How do you think the left would react? With outrage, I’d imagine – and they would be justified. Whether you like it or not, abortion is legal in America. You can try to make it illegal, advocate the overturn of Roe v. Wade, pass laws restricting abortion, etc… but TODAY, it is legal.
Likewise, TODAY, DOMA is law. President Obama may choose to ignore the law, but the moment he chooses not to defend DOMA in court, he is in direct violation of the Constitution – which by the way is his SOLE responsibility as president: “To preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
500 BILLION PEOPLE saw him recite the oath on inauguration day. A few people even saw him recite it a second time later in the week. Did he not understand what he was pledging?
Regardless of whether you support or oppose President Obama politically, there is no doubt that he is testing the limits of presidential power. He has done this numerous times.
Health Care – President Obama has given the federal government unprecedented power in the area of health care, even though it is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution. Obamacare has been declared unconstitutional by two federal judges, and will not likely stand up to a Supreme Court review.
The government simply does not have the right to mandate that every American buy a product from a private company, or face fines. (And for those of you who will bring up car insurance, it is only mandatory if you choose to own a car – and you get to make that choice)
Cap & Trade – The Constitution does not give the federal government power over energy, yet President Obama’s Cap & Trade policy would put costly burdens on companies (which would be passed on to consumers) to meet arbitrary goals that the largest polluters on the Earth (India and China) refuse to agree to.
You think we’re losing jobs to India and China now? Wait until these companies have to live under oppressive costs invented to fund a premature green movement. They’ll simply move to India and China where there are no restrictions – and they get the added bonus of cheaper labor. Then all the liberals will complain about evil corporations moving to China to exploit workers. You know the story. It’s as old as time.
Student Loans – Where the hell does the federal government have the right to take sole custody of the student loan industry? I have no problem with federal loans, Pell Grants, etc. But to remove student loans from private institutions completely? That’s just ridiculous. While President Obama says he wants to increase access to education, he really just wants to control the access to education.
There are many more examples just like these.
I’m not a birther, or a right-wing radical – I’m just an American that sees a president consistently ignore the restrictions placed on his office, and the entire federal government. And while every response I get to this article from a liberal will no doubt conjure up images of George W. Bush shredding the Constitution while drinking the blood of poor people with Dick Cheney – two wrongs do not make a right.
President Obama is constitutionally obligated to execute the office of the President of the United States. He is constitutionally obligated to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed.
While campaigning in 2008, then-candidate Obama promised to repeal DOMA. With super-majorities in Congress, he never made one attempt. He had the opportunity, and Republicans would have had no choice but to sit back and watch it happen. He did not act. He is not repealing DOMA now. He is ignoring DOMA – and that’s just as unconstitutional as DOMA itself.
We, as Americans, should want a president who stays within the confines of the Constitution, and within the restrictions it places on the power of the federal government.
We, as Americans, should want any law we disagree with to be overturned legally – so the repeal has a foundation in law and cannot be overturned later on what some may call a technicality. I happen to believe violating the Constitution is a tad bit more serious than a technicality.
This is not a matter of gay versus straight, or Democrat versus Republican. This is a matter of what is right. And even if you believe President Obama’s heart is in the right place, his methods must also be in the right place – or they have no merit.
The ends do not justify the means, when the means are illegal.