In years to come, when Americans look back at the Obama Administration terms, it will be hard for them to settle on what one big “thing” they think of when they think of the Obama Presidency. Will it be Obamacare, the Middle East, the huge increase in our national debt or the increased racial tensions that have hit our country through his presidency? For me, it will instead be the example he and his Attorney General set that showed all future administrations exactly how a President can do just about anything he or she wants as long as you have an Attorney General who will back you up to the end no matter what you do.
Once a President knows they have an Attorney General they can depend on regardless of Constitutional validity or legality, they can place various underlings in positions of power (For instance, in charge of the IRS, the EPA, etc.) and tell them to use their power without limits. And should they be discovered? Don’t worry, it requires a Department of Justice investigation with the approval of…you guessed it…the Attorney General…to investigate. Since the Attorney General wont let that happen, those underlings know they can act with impunity to push their ideological agenda passed any and all legal limitations without regard to the consequences.
Voter Intimidation – Attorney General Holder wasted no time in showing exactly how he would use his power of blocking prosecutions of those that broke the law in pursuit of furthering their common agenda. Members of the New Black Panther organization were filmed in Philadelphia intimidating voters at a polling station. The Department of Justice, with President Bush’s administration still a few weeks from leaving office, filed charges against 4 members for Civil Rights violations. One of the first acts of the Justice Department under President Obama was to limit and later totally drop all charges against those individuals. Can you imagine what the response would have been in some KKK members in hoods had showed up to intimidate voters?
Federal Guns going to Criminals – From 2009-2011, the Justice Department conducted a multi-agency program to try to track illegal gun sales that were arming Mexican drug cartels. One of the agencies involved was the ATF, which ran their “Fast and Furious” program and ultimately lost well over 1,000 weapons. One of these lost weapons ended up being used to kill a federal agent. Congressional oversight committees investigated and quickly found a cover-up was being conducted by Attorney General Eric Holder. The nature of the cover up was to protect Holder, who had testified under oath that he was unaware of the program. But the Congressional committee was stymied by Holder’s refusal to release documents issued by the Justice Department that would have proven Holder had lied under oath. President Obama stepped in when Congress got too close to actually proving Holder had lied under oath. Obama declared the documents sought by Congress were protected by “Executive Privilege.” The oversight committee cited Attorney General Holder for contempt for refusing their Constitutional right to conduct oversight. In June of 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to hold Holder in criminal contempt. But with President Obama’s protection, there was little more they could do.
Using the IRS to attack Political Opposition – With Obama appointee Louise Lerner leading the agency, the IRS systematically targeted groups with known Republican/Conservative ties. It prevented them from conducting their Constitutionally protected rights to assemble and conduct voter initiatives that could have substantially changed the outcome of the 2012 election (i.e. Obama could have lost). Can you imagine if a Republican president had used the IRS to target liberal groups? The liberal media would never let the story drop from the headlines.
Add to that the numerous immigration laws flouted and immigration officials actually threatened by the president with “consequences” if they do their legally appointed duty. Who would have ever thought we’d have a head of the Justice Department actually ordering law enforcement officials not to enforce the law?
Others on the other side of the political spectrum will no doubt point to their favorite target George W. Bush and claim that he and other former presidents acted similarly. But I truly do not think any other president, Democrat or Republican, ever went anywhere near as far as Obama and Holder. We were left time and again with both Congress and numerous judges indignant that their Constitutional authority was slapped aside with such impunity.
What President Obama and Attorney General Holder have done has revealed a stunning flaw in our system of government. It is a gapping hole in the Constitutional process that enables the Executive Branch to ignore the checks and balances of the Legislative and Judicial Branches of government. We ignore this flaw at our peril. If it is not sealed with active participation from both the legislative and judicial branches, then it will grow with abuses from future administrations. The structure of coequal branches of government will disappear and the Executive Branch will become ever more imperial.