So you are the president and your top legal authority on matters of statutory interpretation –the Acting Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel– and your top DoD lawyer, the General Counsel, both tell you that the War Powers Act applies to Libya. What to do? Tell them to get lost and turn to your in-house counsel in the White House and the State Department’s top lawyer and opinion shop there.
I speculated on air this week that this is what had happened this week when State’s Harold Koh and The White House’s Robert Bauer briefed the press on the president’s interpretation of the War Powers Act, and now the New York Times confirms that the president had to ignore the lawyers charged with giving him advice on the subjectt in order to find someone willing to defend his absurd position on the WPA.
Constitutional conservatives are already alarmed by this president’s unilateralism on legal issues, such as his direction to DOJ to stop defending DOMA, the pending executive order on campaign finance disclosure or his demand on EPA to create the cap-and-trade system via regulation that the Congress wouldn’t enact even with super-majorities of Democrats.
This latest legal escapade should drive home to everyone not in the Obama-fawning MSM that this president is as imperial as W or RN ever dreamed of being. Bypassing the lawyers you don’t like to get to those who agree with you in fact sounds very Nixonian, but the lawyers Nixon overruled had the decency to quit rather than let their offices be downgraded. Will the lawyers in Team Obama stand by their legal judgment or with their increasingly unilateralist boss?