Golfing While the Constitution Burns

Ben Johnson, The White House Watch

When Barack Obama and John Boehner played golf this weekend, they played on the same team. How appropriate.

Barack Obama has violated the Constitution’s war-making power – reserved by Article I, Section 8, to Congress – from the moment he sent American troops into harm’s way without Congressional approval. He has been violating the War Powers Resolution since at least the 60th day of that campaign. And he has violated the most liberal reading of that act – the one Boehner has adopted as his own – since this weekend. Yet despite the letter Boehner authored last week, which the media presented as an “ultimatum,” Obama has neither obtained Congressional authorization nor removed our troops. Boehner’s letter weakly supplicated “I sincerely hope the Administration will faithfully comply with the War Powers Resolution,” but at least it seemed to set this weekend as a definitive cut-off point.

The “deadline” has come and gone, and Obama has not answered the most burning questions of the mission’s legality to anyone’s satisfaction. Instead, the president has thumbed his nose at Congress in general, Boehner in particular, and the American people at large, and the Speaker-cum-caddy has made no meaningful response whatsoever.

Obama insists the American role in Libya is too diminutive to constitute “hostilities,” so his action is perfectly legal. White House spokesman Jay Carney repeated his boss’s party line at Monday’s press conference, stating, “the War Powers Resolution does not need to be involved because the ‘hostilities’ clause of that resolution is not met.” However, soldiers in Libya are receiving an additional $25 a month in “imminent danger pay.” American drones still rain missiles down upon military targets. NATO is alternately bombing Muammar Qaddafi’s home and killing the innocent Libyan civilians they are purportedly protecting. (We had to kill the civilians in order to save them?) NATO admitted (at least) one of its bombs went off target on Sunday, killing nine civilians in Tripoli, while allied bombs allegedly killed 15 civilians in Sorman on Monday.

Not to worry, though; Defense Secretary Robert Gates said over the weekend, in a confidence-builder worthy of Churchill, “I think this is going to end OK.” Gates, who once opposed the Libyan adventure, has pulled a 180 on the matter.

Even Obama’s short-term fellow Illinois Senator, Dick Durbin, agrees Libya more than rises to the level of hostilities.

So, too, we have learned, do the best legal minds of Obama’s administration (not a coveted nor much-contested title, I assure you). In overruling his own lawyers, Obama rejected the considered conclusions of Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon’s general counsel, and Caroline Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). The New York Times reported it is “extraordinarily rare” for any president to overrule the OLC. “Under normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding on the executive branch.”

But then, nothing in the Obama administration transpires under “normal circumstances.”

Two former OLC lawyers outlined precisely how unusual the dismissal was….

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Obama Admin Wants Permission to Track You with a GPS, Without a Warrant

Robert Barnes, The Washington Post

It’s a wide, wired world out there, more so every day, and the Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to let law enforcement take advantage of it to build cases against the bad guys.

The administration wants the justices to overturn a decision last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that said police must get a warrant before launching a long-term surveillance of a suspect using a global positioning device attached to the man’s car.

In overturning the conviction of a D.C. nightclub owner accused of being a prominent cocaine kingpin, Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal said the appeals court decision was not faithful to a Supreme Court ruling that people have no expectation of privacy when traveling along public streets.

“Prompt resolution of this conflict is critically important to law enforcement efforts throughout the United States,” Katyal told the court in a petition asking them to take the case of United States v. Antoine Jones

“This case is really going to confront the court with the problem of adopting the Fourth Amendment to a new information age,” said Daniel Prywes, a Washington lawyer who wrote a brief in the Jones case for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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Supreme Court Rejects Call to Fast-Track Obamacare Lawsuit

Steven Ertelt,

The Supreme Court has rejected a request from the state of Virginia, which has filed one of the successful lawsuits that lower courts have agreed should overturn at least part of the abortion-funding health care law.

A Virginia federal judge ruled the individual mandate portion of the Obamacare law invalid in a lawsuit the state filed against the measure and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, in February, asked the Supreme Court to take an expedited review of the case. The Obama administration responded and asked the high court to stay away from the case until after a federal appeals court has a chance to review the federal judge’s decision and issue its own opinion on whether the law, which presents abortion funding and rationing concerns for pro-life groups, is unconstitutional.

Today, the Supreme Court justices turned down Virginia’s request in a decision that doesn’t surprise most legal observers. The nation’s leading court only rarely expedites cases, and that usually happens with wartime decisions or a major constitutional or election crisis that must be decided quickly.

With hearings already scheduled for May and June in federal appeals courts for the various cases challenging Obamacare, the Supreme Court is expected to receive the case in time for a decision by early summer of next year — in what could be a preview of one of the most contentious issues of the 2012 presidential election.

Although conservatives want her to sit out of the decision on the law because of her involvement in the Obama administration as Obama’s solicitor general, pro-abortion Justice Elena Kagan reportedly participated in the Supreme Court’s decision against fast-tracking the case. She told members of the Senate during confirmation hearings that she played no role in crafting the legislation or assisting in its passage in Congress, but conservatives have called her to sit out the case anyway.

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