The Department of Justice is having an awfully hard time telling the truth when it comes to gay civil rights, and even when they do tell the truth, it’s a rather pathetic truth they’re telling.
First, the lie.
DOJ gay liaison Matt Nosanchuk, in a panel at the National Press Club this past week, again reiterated the DOJ standard lie that the department has no choice but to defend anti-gay laws in the courts, and that the Obama administration can’t pick and choose which laws it defends.
Nosanchuk said the Justice Department has to defend all of the laws on the books, even if the administration disagrees with particular laws.
“The Department of Justice has a historic and traditional obligation to defend the laws that Congress passes,” Nosanchuk said. “We don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing with laws to enforce.”
That is a flat out lie. The DOJ does not have to defend every law. Joe and I showed a year ago how every administration back to Reagan (and I’m sure before) has refused to defend some law in court that it didn’t agree with.
And I quote from our post last year:
Fortunately for you, and unfortunately for Justice, Joe and I are both lawyers. We suspected this betrayal was coming, so we read up on the law. In fact, George W. Bush (ACLU et al., v. Norman Y. Mineta – “The U.S. Department of Justice has notified Congress that it will not defend a law prohibiting the display of marijuana policy reform ads in public transit systems.”), Bill Clinton (Dickerson v. United States – “Because the Miranda decision is of constitutional dimension, Congress may not legislate a contrary rule unless this Court were to overrule Miranda…. Section 3501 cannot constitutionally authorize the admission of a statement that would be excluded under this Court’s Miranda cases.”), George HW Bush (Metro Broadcasting v. Federal Communications Commission), and Ronald Reagan (INS v./ Chadha – “Chadha then filed a petition for review of the deportation order in the Court of Appeals, and the INS joined him in arguing that § 244(c)(2) is unconstitutional.”) all joined in lawsuits opposing federal laws that they didn’t like, laws that they felt were unconstitutional. It is an outright lie to suggest that the DOJ had no choice.
Oh, but Nosanchuck tries to explain this away:
Nosanchuk said that the previous administration chose not to enforce some laws, specifically within the Civil Rights Division, and that was not a practice the Obama administration wanted to continue.
Really? That’s new, and news. So the Obama administration supports the laws that the Clinton administration opposed in court. Really? Some enterprising young lawyer needs to go through those laws and see just what new policy Nasanchuk has just embraced on behalf of President Obama. I suspect this policy reversal should be fascinating.
But more to the point, Nosanchuk also lied in the second part of his earlier quote, where he says the administration can’t pick and choose what laws it wants to defend. That’s a lie, since the Obama administration is notorious for doing just that. Let me share a few examples of just how the Obama administration picks and chooses which laws it wants to obey, from another of our earlier posts:
A) Last October the Obama administration outright ignored federal law regarding marijuana because it was at odd’s with the administration’s policy preferences with regards to medical marijuana.
B) Then there is President Obama’s use of signing statements to simply ignore laws passed by Congress.
C) Then there’s this from the NYT just two months ago:
T]he approach will make it harder to keep track of which statutes the White House believes it can disregard….
[T]he administration will consider itself free to disregard new laws it considers unconstitutional….
Mr. Obama nevertheless challenged dozens of provisions early last year. The last time was in June, when his claim that he could disobey a new law requiring officials to push the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to adopt certain policies angered Congress….
Last year the Obama administration disregarded a statute that forbid State Department officials to attend United Nations meetings led by nations deemed state sponsors of terrorism. Congress has included that restriction in several recent bills.
D) Then there was the time that the Obama administration refused to enforce immigration laws because they didn’t comport with the administration’s policy preferences.
So, in fact, contrary to Nosanchuk’s convenient, but false, talking point, the Obama administration frequently disregards laws it doesn’t agree with. So, the assumption is that the Obama administration agrees with DADT and with DOMA, since it insists on defending them in court.
Even more insidious is the talking point underlying Nosanchuk’s assertion that unlike previous administrations, the Obama administration wants to obey the law. Putting aside for a moment Nosanchuk’s lie that the Obama administration has somehow changed policy, and now obeys all laws (when they don’t), what’s really nefarious about Nosanchuk’s assertion is an underlying talking point the administration stopped using several months ago. Namely, that they have to defend anti-gay laws in court in order to show how they’re better than George Bush. You see, their argument goes, George Bush ignored laws, and the Obama administration reveres laws, so unlike Bush, they’re going to obey every law, and that’s why they are on the side of prejudice and bigotry in the courts, to show what a force for good they are in the world as compared to George Bush.
Put aside for a moment the notion that, in an effort to be “good,” the Obama administration is supporting positions that would make George Wallace all warm and fuzzy. This perverted argument is actually even worse than it appears. The Obama administration is now arguing that George Bush ignored the law, so they are going to embrace the law. But, look at how Bush ignored the law and look at how Obama is embracing it.
Bush ignored the law by spying on Americans without going to court to seek a judge’s approvals. Obama is now saying that were he to go to court to argue before a judge that anti-gay laws are unconstitutional, the very fact of arguing before a judge would somehow be the same as George Bush refusing to argue before a judge.
How perverted is that. The administration actually thinks, if Nosanchuk is to be believed, that their choosing to argue before a judge in court is the immoral equivalent of Bush refusing to go before a judge in court. So Obama is upholding law and order by refusing to argue before a judge in court, which is pretty much exactly what George Bush did.
Who comes up with this stuff?
And the administration wonders why an increasing number of gays, and our allies, have reached a boiling point with this administration.
Why the convoluted explanations for why President Obama defends the same kind of bigotry in court that his parents faced only decades ago? Why not just do the right thing? Or would that take more balls than the Obama administration has?
PS I forgot to mention that Nosanchuk takes “credit” for the administration no longer invoking incest and pedophilia in an effort to defend DOMA in court. Well bully for you. Mind you, Nosanchuk and company are still defending DOMA
in court, they’re still trying to deny you the right to marry, just as Barack Obama’s inter-racial parents would have been denied the right to marry in the 1960s and before. But now, according to Nosanchuk, the bigoted anti-gay briefs use nicer language in their ongoing efforts to deny us our civil rights.
That’s mighty white of you, Matt. Since, we weren’t upset that President Obama is fighting against our civil rights in court, we were only upset that he was using nasty language in doing so. Now that the language is nicer, it’s perfectly all right for the President to oppose our entire civil rights agenda in the courts.
Again, who comes up with this stuff?