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A lawyer by training, Obama ignores rule of law

Published: Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 4:11 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 4:12 p.m. CDT

“The Illegal-Donor Loophole” is the headline of a Daily Beast story by Peter Schweizer of the conservative Government Accountability Institute and Peter Boyer, former reporter at The New Yorker and The New York Times.

The article tells how Obama.com, a website owned by an Obama fundraiser who lives in China but has visited the Obama White House 11 times, sends solicitations mostly to foreign email addresses and links to the Obama campaign website’s donation page.

The Obama website, unlike those of most campaigns, doesn’t ask for the three- or four-digit credit card verification number. That makes it easier for donors to use fictitious names and addresses to send money in.

Campaigns aren’t allowed to accept donations from foreigners. But it looks like the Obama campaign has made it easier for them to slip money in. How much foreign money has come into the Obama campaign? Schweizer and Boyer say there’s no way to know.

The campaign — as my former boss, pollster Peter Hart, likes to say — always reflects the candidate. A campaign willing to skirt the law or abet violations of it reflects a candidate who, as president, has been doing the same thing.

Examples abound. Consider Obama’s promise not to deport young illegal immigrants brought into the U.S. as children who meet certain conditions — like going to college or serving in the military.

It’s a policy that tests well in the polls. The problem is that Congress, even when controlled by Democrats, refused to relax immigration policy in this way.

You won’t hear much about this on the campaign trail. Mitt Romney says he won’t reverse it, since it seems harsh to penalize people who came forward in response to a president’s stated policy. Similarly, he’s not in favor of reversing the policy allowing open gays to serve in the military.

There’s one difference between the two situations. Congress actually passed a law (repealing one signed by Clinton) allowing gays to serve. It was one of the last acts of the outgoing Congress in 2010.

But neither that Congress nor the current one passed a law authorizing mass non-enforcement of immigration laws. Article II of the Constitution sets out the duties and powers of the president. Section 3 states that “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

It does not give him the power to make laws. That’s given to Congress, in Article I.

Barack Obama was a lecturer on constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School. But he seems to take the attitude familiar to me, as an alumnus of Yale Law School, that the law is simply a bunch of words that people who are clever with words can manipulate to get any result they want.

In public speeches, he has defended such policies by shouting, “We can’t wait!” The results are good, or at least politically convenient, so why be held back by a few words written on paper?

The Constitution was written by men who had a different idea. They wanted a government bound by the rule of law. Do we?

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