Thursday, February 24, 2011

Obama, DOMA, and my two cents

I blame George Bush. Back when he was illegally expanding his presidential powers, and via signing statements announced his intention to ignore laws that had been duly passed by Congress, many of us fretted this was a dangerous precedent, and that future presidents would be unlikely to give up the new powers Bush had acquired for himself.

And now we see it has come to pass.

This week Obama announced that his administration will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

Though I agree that DOMA is a dumb, deeply unfair law, I dislike Obama's decision. He claims DOMA is unconstitutional -- and I happen to agree with him -- but as I said back when Bush played these games, it isn't the president's job to decide what laws are constitutional and which are not. The default position is that a law, once passed, is valid. Congress has a chezkas kashhrus that can only be taken away by the courts. The President's job is to enforce the law, as written, not to interpret it.

If Presidents can decide on their own whether to obey a law or not, for any reason they come up with, we no longer have a democracy but an elective dictatorship.

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