Last week, we brought you the story of the latest unprecedented congressional Republican weapon against the White House: the frivolous lawsuit. Specifically, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is considering legal action to overturn the president’s executive orders (EOs) in spite of the fact that every president since George Washington has used executive orders to enact policies and implement congressional legislation, among other things.
Since then, there have been a lot of tweets, memes and online discussions about how President Obama has issued considerably fewer EOs than nearly every president since the second Grover Cleveland administration, and in fact the absolute fewest EOs among all two-term presidents, even if he signs 100 more over the next two years. This is empirically true and, as with many of the GOP attacks against this administration, the reality of what happened prior to January 20, 2009 reveals a cynical double-standard, not to mention the existence of mass hypocrisy on behalf of the opposition party.
But the numbers only tell half the story.
On this week’s Fox News Sunday, anchor Chris Wallace grilled Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) over the nature of the Obama EOs, while Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA-real-name) lashed out with the usual nonsense about how the president’s constitutional role is merely to “faithfully execute the laws” — not to “take powers resting in the Congress” or to change “laws that have been passed.” Wallace listed four allegedly very serious presidential trespasses against the Constitution, trespasses which the GOP believes are lawsuit worthy:
–Ordered DOJ to stop defending DOMA (Feb. 2011)
–Deferred deportations (June 2012)
–Raised min wage for fed contractors (Feb. 2014)
–Dozens of changes to Obamacare (2011-present)
1) Stopped defending DOMA. First of all, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) claim by Fox News Sunday is misleading. The administration merely announced that it would no longer defend in court the constitutionality Section Three of DOMA. Meanwhile, it continued to enforce the law until the Supreme Court overturned it. Furthermore, it wasn’t an executive order; it was announced to Speaker Boehner in a letter.
From the president’s letter of February, 2011:
Notwithstanding this determination, the President has informed me that Section 3 will continue to be enforced by the Executive Branch. To that end, the President has instructed Executive agencies to continue to comply with Section 3 of DOMA, consistent with the Executive’s obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, unless and until Congress repeals Section 3 or the judicial branch renders a definitive verdict against the law’s constitutionality.
In a filing on Monday, DOJ attorneys reiterated that Obama told executive agencies to enforce the law until Congress repealed it — even though the administration would no longer defend its constitutionality in court.
So I think we can safely strike that one entirely off Wallace’s list.
2) Deferred Deportations. While the GOP maintains… CONTINUE READING