by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano
July 11, 2013
Fidelity to the rule of law is the centerpiece of a free society. It means that no one is beneath the protection of the law and no one is absolved of the obligation to comply with it. The government may not make a person or a class of persons exempt from constitutional protections, as it did during slavery, nor may it make government officials exempt from complying with the law, as it does today.
Everyone who works for the government in the United States takes an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws written pursuant to it.
In our system of government, we expect that Congress will write the laws, the courts will interpret them and the president will enforce them.
Indeed, the Constitution states that it is the president’s affirmative duty to enforce the law. That duty is not an abstract formulation. Rather, it means the president cannot decline to enforce laws with which he disagrees or whose enforcement might cause him or his political allies to lose popularity.
It also means the president cannot make up his own version of the law as a substitute for what the Constitution commands or Congress has written.