"…and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God." These words complete the US Presidential oath of office.
Preserve. Protect. Defend. What do those words mean? Aren’t these the duties of the President? If the President of the failed to do that, could he be brought up on criminal charges? How, in fact, do you defend the Constitution?
Here are some ideas. Preserve the principles of the Constitution. Protect Constitutional rights of the people. And here’s one: Defend the laws passed using the process defined in the Constitution.
But our President has decided which laws he will preserve, protect and defend, and those he won’t. It started with the Defense of Marriage Act, and now this:
The Obama Justice Department has concluded that legislation banning same-sex couples from receiving military and veterans benefits violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment and will no longer defend the statute in court, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders on Friday.
“The legislative record of these provisions contains no rationale for providing veterans’ benefits to opposite-sex couples of veterans but not to legally married same-sex spouses of veterans,” Holder wrote. “Neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Veterans Affairs identified any justifications for that distinction that would warrant treating these provisions differently from Section 3 of DOMA.”
But that’s not his call to make. He isn’t there to decide which laws, in his estimation, are worth defending and which aren’t. The duly elected representatives of the people have made these laws. The executive branch does not have the Constitutional right to override the people or the legislative branch. It is, I contend, a breach of his oath of office.
Instead, the Justice Department is pre-empting the judicial branch’s process.
Holder said DOJ would no longer defend the provisions in Title 38 which prevent same-sex couples who are legally married from obtaining benefits. He said that Congress would be provided a “full and fair opportunity” to defend the statues in the McLaughlin v. Panetta case if they wished to do so.
Congress does not have the role of defending its legislation; that is Holder’s job.
Comments on the liberal "Talking Points Memo" blog on this article are uniformly positive about this move by the DOJ. But I wonder if they would be so happy about some social conservative President deciding he wouldn’t press federal charges against someone who killed an abortion doctor. For the Left, the decision as to whether something is Constitutional always takes a back seat to whether it’s politically expedient for their side. They like the outcome, so never mind the law, and never mind the people. Win at all costs.
Even if one of those costs is our founding principles.