President Obama has a strategy to circumvent the political gridlock, do nothing. With the general election drawing nearer, it is imperative now more than ever to garner the liberal vote. That’s why the administration is striving to fulfill as many campaign promises now to Democrats. However, a divided Congress restricts such legislative movement, so Obama is relying on federal agencies to ignore or not defend some laws, Politico reports.
President Barack Obama recently used his control over government agencies to establish a semi-amnesty for undocumented youth. Janet Napolitano, current Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, announced Friday that illegal immigrants would be granted temporary legal status in the United States.
The new policy was announced as polls showed that Obama’s re-election campaign is losing ground in critical states, including Wisconsin, North Carolina and Florida.
Documented youth will now be allowed to remain within the country (a stipulation of the stalled DREAM Act) so long as they met certain requirements like having a clean legal record.
This sends a loud message to Hispanic voters to remember Obama in November.
This sudden declaration was met with some praise.
“Today’s news is truly a dream come true for me and for so many other DREAMers across the country,” said Felipe Matos, field director of the organization GetEqual, to The Daily Caller.
However, utilization of such executive power has made some apprehensive about the president’s decision.
“The president is using executive power to do things Congress has refused to do, and that does fit a disturbing pattern of expansion of executive power under President Obama,” said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law scholar at George Washington University Law School.
The administration has asked agencies to do less for gay rights as well. In February 2011 the Justice
Department announced it would not defend DOMA against court challenges – an atypical attitude of the agency, which seeks to maintain stare decisis. The 1996 law, which defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman, will likely not be making any appearances for same-sex marriages cases.
In August, Obama’s DHS said it would also no longer deport the non-citizen spouses of gay Americans – another direct contradiction to DOMA.
With Obama’s recent endorsement of same-sex marriages, it is clear that he is trying to secure his presidential position by garnering the support of those within the gay community.
Obama however, is certainly not the only president who has used his political sway to influence policy.
After 9/11 the Bush administration has robustly employed executive power to meet the threat posed by terrorism.
In his mission to keep America safe, he has authorized wiretaps, secret kidnappings of terrorist suspects and coercive interrogation tactics. This expansion of power treads over many constitutional safeguards and freedoms.
Even Thomas Jefferson, an American Founding father, negotiated and purchased what is now the Louisiana territory without Congressional approval. Although such constitutional defiance ultimately was a good investment, do the ends justify the means?
Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law School constitutional professor and prominent liberal scholar, told Politico that within reason, the president should be able to enforce laws, but ultimately, this should not be an enduring precedent.
“What if a Congress were to tell the president to shoot all self-proclaimed Mormons on sight, the way the governor of Missouri once did in the 19th century?” he said. “Surely no president with a constitutional conscience could comply with such a directive.”