What is the remedy when the White House behaves as if it is above the law? Is the president, or is he not, subject to the same laws that bind everyone else? This is the fundamental question that needs to be answered.
Last May, after millions of barrels of oil had been pumped into the ocean, Barack Obama issued an order to halt all U.S. deep sea drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Immediately, constitutionalists began to rail against the moratorium, which appeared to be a severe abuse of Presidential authority – a quick grab for powers that the commander in chief simply doesn’t wield. The courts agreed, and on June 22, an injunction was issued by U.S. District Judge, Martin Feldman, who argued that Obama’s directive was “overly broad.”
A few hours after their defeat, U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar issued a statement stating that the Obama administration would be presenting a “new order in the coming days that eliminates any doubt that a moratorium is needed, appropriate, and within our authorities.”
A second drilling ban was enacted last July, only to be rescinded in October – before Judge Feldman could rule on it. Since then, the government has used a cadre of regulators to deny drilling and enforce a de facto ban. In fact the government has not issued a single drilling permit in the last 9 months.
Two weeks ago, Judge Feldman found the Obama administration in contempt of court.
“Each step the government took following the court’s imposition of a preliminary injunction showcases its defiance,” Feldman ruled. “Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the re-imposition of a second blanket and substantively identical moratorium, and in light of the national importance of this case, provides this court with clear and convincing evidence of the government’s contempt.”
The Obama administration has remained silent on the issue but, tellingly, their refusal to grant permits has not wavered.
This pattern is repeating itself in regards to Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare overhaul. First, in December, U.S District Judge Henry E. Hudson determined that Obamacare’s individual mandate was unconstitutional – though he angered conservatives by refusing to extend his ruling to the entire bill. A month later, however, Florida U.S. District Judge, Roger Vinson, did exactly that.
According to the Florida ruling, “Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void.” Vinson went on to say that there was no need to issue an injunction against implementing the law since it’s illegal for the government to enforce an unconstitutional law in the first place.
“There is a long-standing presumption that officials of the Executive Branch will adhere to the law as declared by the court, Vinson wrote in his judgment. “As a result, the declaratory judgment is the functional equivalent of an injunction. There is no reason to conclude that this presumption should not apply here. Thus, the award of declaratory relief is adequate and separate injunctive relief is not necessary.”
Apparently, the President simply doesn’t care.