IF conservatives should have learned anything from President Obama's first four years in office, it is that this chief executive has no qualms about ignoring the law whenever it becomes an obstacle to his ideological agenda, unless Congress or the federal courts force him to do otherwise. Exhibit A here is the Libyan bombing, which Obama's own White House lawyers concluded was a “military action” requiring congressional approval under the War Powers Act. Obama bombed Libya anyway.
Or look at the No Child Left Behind federal education law. When several states sought relief from provisions of the law that classified many of their school districts as “failing,” Obama bypassed Congress and unilaterally issued waivers that the Brookings Institution described as “a wholesale executive branch rewrite of federal law through use of the waiver authority.”
Then there are Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which he made in violation of the Constitution's requirement that such appointments be made only when the Senate is not in session. When the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled the appointments unconstitutional, Obama instructed his appointees to continue issuing rulings anyway, pending an appeal to the Supreme Court that could take months to complete.
It is in such a context that the 844-page Gang of Eight immigration reform bill released in the wee hours of last Tuesday morning appears so frightening. The bill says “the secretary shall” hundreds of times, with each instance representing a new transfer of congressional authority to executive branch bureaucrats.
Not only does the bill create a new bureaucracy — the Bureau of Immigration and Market Research — with power to control how many immigrant guest workers enter the country each year, it sets their wages and determines which industries can hire them. This is industrial policy writ large.