The Obama Administration is displaying a deeply disturbing, fundamental lack of comprehension concerning the role of the federal government, and the dominion of its various agencies. The problem is reflected in issues both foreign and domestic, and is profoundly changing the relationship between Washington, the states, and individual American citizens.
The White House response to the recent beheading of an American journalist, as well as the 9/11/12 attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi is illustrative of this deep confusion. Each of these actions were military in nature, the former performed under the aegis of an adversarial armed force, the latter by organized terrorists using the weapons and tactics of war.
Rather than allow the appropriate organization, The Department of Defense, to timely respond, the Justice Department was absurdly given jurisdiction. This is an irrational move for two key reasons. First, enemy military organizations are not vulnerable to nor concerned with American jurisprudence. Second, DOJ simply doesn’t have the capability to bring a foreign military to heel. Indeed, as has been amply demonstrated, even the heroic arrest or elimination by Special Forces of individual culpable leaders, Osama bin Laden being a prime example, does nothing substantive to reduce the threat. Bin Laden is dead, but Islamic extremism is stronger than ever. Removing major figures has only strengthened the resolve of the movement, which now controls more territory than ever, a direct consequence of the Obama Administration’s decision to prematurely remove U.S. forces from Iraq and its announcement of a departure date from Afghanistan.
Domestically, the Department of Justice has failed to prosecute the tidal wave of illegal aliens flooding through America’s southern border, but has not hesitated to move against state and local officials seeking to do this vital task that the White House has abandoned.
It’s bewilderment over what it is supposed to do—and what it has no jurisdiction over-- can also be seen in the events that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri. The proper course of action in the wake of the shooting of a black robbery suspect by a white police officer was to have the Missouri state legal system investigate and take appropriate action. No evidence of a civil rights violation was established before Attorney General Eric Holder became involved, sending numerous FBI agents to the area and travelling there himself. Since a civil rights violation had not been established, DOJ lacked jurisdiction and its presence was inappropriate.
In contrast, The Department of Justice has repeatedly refrained from investigating fairly obvious actions which affected Americans’ fundamental rights, including acts of voter intimidation, the harassment of journalists, and the abuse of the Internal Revenue Service involving partisan political attacks. It has also consistently interfered with states seeking to insure that their voter registration rolls are accurate.
While the Department of Justice is a key problem, other federal agencies have, during the tenure of the current White House, also been responsible for numerous, dramatic and frequently unwarranted and constitutionally inappropriate increases in Washington’s authority, endangering the rights and property of individual citizens and enterprises. The expansionist policies of the Environmental Protection Agency has caused significant harm and raised constitutional issues.
Washington’s overreach has created a regulatory climate that is Kafkaesque.
In his 2013 testimony before the Congressional Committee on over-criminalization, John G. Malcolm of the Heritage Foundation Stated: “… buried within the 51 titles of the United States Code and the far more voluminous Code of Federal Regulations, there are approximately 4,500 statutes and another 300,000 (or more) implementing regulations with potential criminal penalties for violations. There are so many criminal laws and regulations, in fact, that nobody really knows how many there are, with scores more being created every year. And that’s just federal offenses.”
It is clear that the Constitution never envisioned this vast and direct role for the federal government. The Bill of Rights’ Tenth Amendment clearly states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
This combination of confused jurisdiction between individual federal agencies, combined with Washington’s constitutionally inappropriate overreach into the jurisdiction of the states, reflects a government badly at odds with both common sense and its own founding principles.