By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A great day for America

I’m heading to New Haven in a little while for a day of reporting. I’m not bringing my laptop, so no blogging for me.

Meanwhile, please stop and appreciate what a great day this is for America. In his own incremental way, President Obama is moving ever closer to true equality for all of us.

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  1. Aaron Read

    I’m not a lawyer, so perhaps I’m missing something…but this is a TERRIBLE day for America. We just had a President decide to ignore a law because he doesn’t like it. Doesn’t that set an absolutely horrible precedent? Doesn’t this essentially violate the oath of office?

    I mean, sure it’s great that he’s setting the stage for a legal challenge of the DOMA, which was a vile, despicable law to begin with.

    But what happens when the next President decides they don’t like the health care bill so they’re going to instruct the justice department not to enforce it? Or another President decides they don’t like the 14th Amendment so states can go ahead and pass laws stripping so-called “anchor babies” of their Citizenship?

    Like I said, I’m not a lawyer so maybe I’m missing something. I really hope I am. But on the surface, this looks like more of Obama’s indecisiveness that’ll ultimately hurt more than it helps.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Aaron: I’m pretty sure that Obama has said he’ll continue to enforce the law, but that he will no longer defend it against constitutional challenge, which is well within his purview.

  2. Aaron Read

    From a legal perspective that makes sense. So that does make me feel better.

    What about the politics, though? That feels like splitting hairs to me. But I’m guessing there is precedent for that sort of thing? (I hope)

  3. C.E. Stead

    DK – so when Pres. Palin announces she will not defend any court challenge to the health care law, even an injunction, you’re down with that?

  4. Mike Benedict

    @CE: If ever there were a President Palin, health care would be the least of our concerns.

  5. Alan Grossberg

    I haven’t Googled it yet for examples, but numerous cable stations (on both sides of the political spectrum) mentioned that other Presidents, including G.W. Bush, have done the exact same thing re: continuing to enforce laws w/o defending them.

  6. Nancy Mades

    Regardless of whether he/she agrees with a law, doesn’t the President have to defend the rule of law as part of being President? It’a part of the Oath of Office, right? Would a pro-life President be allowed to stop defending Roe v. Wade as the law of the land just because he/she believes the law to be wrong? Tell me what I’m missing here.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Nancy: I think you’re confusing the executive branch’s obligation to enforce the law, which the Obama administration has said it will continue to do, with defending the constitutionality of the law in court, which it has said it will not do, and which in fact it is not obligated to do. Thursday’s New York Times reported on the difference pretty directly:

      While it is rare for an administration not to defend the constitutionality of a statute, it happens occasionally. Congress may opt to appoint its own lawyers to defend the law, or outside groups may try to intervene. And while the Justice Department’s lawyers will no longer defend the law in court, Mr. Holder said the administration would continue to enforce the act unless Congress repeals it or a court delivers a “definitive verdict against the law’s constitutionality.”

  7. Nancy Mades

    Okay..that makes sense then and in fact, seems like a good idea.

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