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Congress to Obama: Mr. President, observing the law matters

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There are seven noahide laws that according to Jewish tradition are incumbent on every virtuous person, Jewish or non-Jewish. One of them is to reside in a just society.

Generally, a just society is governed by law. Modern Americans assume that equality under the law is central to justice. A corollary is that there is no American above the law.

The Constitution is the great foundation of American justice. Much like Torah, the Constitution is a document that is extremely interesting and has well served the test of time. For both Torah and Constitution interpretations are more relevant to how life operates, than the words of the documents themselves.

Among the most innovative sections is the separation of powers. The founders understood how other governments had operated for centuries. A monarch was not only head of state, but also chief judge. The words of a monarch were law, so in a sense a monarch was also a legislature. Although Great Britain became a constitutional democracy with the acceptance of the Magna Cartathe power of monarchs in countries around the globe remained vast. Not in the United States. Legislature, Executive and Judiciary are set by the Constitution as separate but equal divisions of government, and so it has been for over two centuries.

With their extensive responsibility, presidents of our republic have a full right to be full of themselves. Under the Nixon presidency White House guards wore special uniforms to meet the pomp of the building's chief occupant. Nixon had the temerity to deliver to Congress not only States of the Union, as required by the Constitution, but also a State of the World message. The Watergate hearings that eventually led to Nixon’s resignation were replete with the expression “executive privilege”. It came to be known and understood by most Americans. It is not surprising that the Nixon years were often identified as imperial presidency.

Nixon might have been imperial, but he was not nearly as imperious as the incumbent. While Americans may have grown accustomed to executive privilege, no president has used it more regularly than Mr. Obama. The problem, is he is using the privilege legally?

No man or woman is above the law in our country. Federal law is determined by Congress and signed into action or vetoed by the president. Agencies of the government set regulations without a legislative process, but no agency has the right to delete, undermine or circumvent laws expressly set by the Congress.

If the Congress is t respected, and if its laws observed, those laws must be enforced. The body that made those laws is the body that must enforce them, even if it means to face down the president.

Republicans and Democrats should join force to demand that the president respects Congress as he signed its bills into law. This even applies to bills he advocated that may need tweaking to work as hoped. He can ask for Congress to revise and amend, but he cannot amend Congressional outcomes with the stroke of a solitary pen.

If laws are not respected, they lose meaning. If law has no meaning, American society cannot be just. Being a just society, is among our loftiest American values.



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