Re: Nov. 18 letter from Joe Boggs, “Beware the hand that wields power”
The is regarding Mr. Boggs’ concerns about President Obama’s proposed amnesty to illegal aliens and his refusal to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. Mr. Boggs declares these actions unconstitutional.
Article II of the U.S. Constitution gives the President the power of clemency, which includes the power to pardon, to commute sentences proscribed by the court, and to provide amnesty even to large groups. The power to pardon was used by President Ford to remove the threat of criminal charges against Richard Nixon. The power to commute was used by President George W. Bush to vacate the sentence of Scooter Libby. The power of amnesty was used by President Carter to remove the threat of prosecution from Vietnam draft dodgers that fled abroad.
Article II also requires the President to uphold the laws of the United States, but it gives him great latitude in doing so. For example, President G.W. Bush issued a number of “signing letters” outlining specific sections of laws that he signed that he would not enforce. President Obama never stopped enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act, he simply refused to defend it against suits in various jurisdictions where it was being challenged.
Ultimately, the Supreme Court found the Act was unconstitutional, which renders Mr. Bogg’s point irrevelant. The U.S. Constitution is complex document and it often is difficult for us to understand how it is and can be applied, so we must read it carefully and pay attention to past precedents before declaring any administrative, legislative or judicial act unconstitutional.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.