Editorial: Leaders must support laws - or change them
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced this past week that the Department of Justice will no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
This action - or inaction - guts the longstanding practice for government attorneys to defend the constitutionality of duly enacted statutes. This shows contempt for Congress and the courts while politicizing the administration of justice.
The Constitution of the United States and logic make clear several points in this regard:
Our senators, representatives and president are sworn to uphold the Constitution.
Congress enacts legislation under the precepts of the Constitution.
The three branches of government are allowed to weigh in about the constitutionality of those laws. If there is not a reasonable basis in law for an act's constitutionality, the Supreme Court can intervene or Congress may change the law.
When it comes to the executive branch, according to the Constitution, it is to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." It follows then that the Department of Justice is supposed to defend the constitutionality of federal statutes when they are challenged. If the executive branch disagrees, it, too, can challenge an act or law.
For the executive branch, of which Holder is a part, to decide differently brings shame upon Congress and the courts. In laymen's terms, it's insubordination.
"(President Obama) has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging Congress," Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council told The Associated Press. "It is incumbent upon the Republican leadership to respond by intervening to defend DOMA, or they will become complicit in the president's neglect of duty."
The act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, precluded the government - federal and state - from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples, the AP reported. The act defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.
While not everyone believes in the act's protections, the Constitution provides critics clear processes to change the law and/or oppose it in court.
This order by Holder, on Obama's behalf, overrides the tradition of law in order to push untested social policy.