Monday, August 9, 2010

Legislators Should Legislate, Not Administrators

That is the gist of Charles Krauthammer's most recent post, "Annals Of Executive Overreach," in the Washington Post. One issue in particular about which you may not have heard is a doozy, and comes to us courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security. Oh, you aren't even going to believe what little memo they put out.

Overall, Krauthammer's message is concise: let the legislators legislate, that is their job after all, and let the administrators administrate the laws they have been charged to enforce. Easy, right? Sadly, not so much any more:
Last week, a draft memo surfaced from the Department of Homeland Security suggesting ways to administratively circumvent existing law to allow several categories of illegal immigrants to avoid deportation and, indeed, for some to be granted permanent residency. Most disturbing was the stated rationale. This was being proposed "in the absence of Comprehensive Immigration Reform." In other words, because Congress refuses to do what these bureaucrats would like to see done, they will legislate it themselves.

Regardless of your feelings on the substance of the immigration issue, this is not how a constitutional democracy should operate. Administrators administer the law, they don't change it. That's the legislators' job.

When questioned, the White House played down the toxic memo, leaving the impression that it was nothing more than ruminations emanating from the bowels of Homeland Security. But the administration is engaged in an even more significant power play elsewhere.

A 2007 Supreme Court ruling gave the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate carbon emissions if it could demonstrate that they threaten human health and the environment. The Obama EPA made precisely that finding, thereby granting itself a huge expansion of power and, noted The Post, sending "a message to Congress."

It was not a terribly subtle message: Enact cap-and-trade legislation -- taxing and heavily regulating carbon-based energy -- or the EPA will do so unilaterally. As Frank O'Donnell of Clean Air Watch noted, such a finding "is likely to help light a fire under Congress to get moving."

Well, Congress didn't. Despite the "regulatory cudgel" (to again quote The Post) the administration has been waving, the Senate has repeatedly refused to acquiesce. [snip]

Krauthammer's post s well worth the read, and you can read the rest of it here.

Back to this memo for a second here. If you take the time to read it, you will see exactly to what Krauthammer is referring, a reinterpretation of the law, and an "expansion," if you will, of the law to permit more people to stay here, even though they are illegal aliens. In fact, it allows people who have already been deemed ineligible to change their status. I believe that boils down to amnesty, does it not? And that is only the second page of an eleven page memo. Yikes.

But here's the thing, as Krauthammer points out: it is NOT the job of Homeland Security to reinterpret the law, but to administer the law. And it is certainly not their job to craft de facto immigration reform "absent legislative action," as the memo states.

Despite Obama's strong-arming of Congress, there is a reason why there are three equal branches of government. It's about damn time for us to get back to treating each branch equally, and for each branch to act accordingly. Don't you think?

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