Rule of Law, or Rule by Law?

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes about the Obama administration’s disregard for law through its decision to flout it on the subject of Obama’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, and Kevin Mooney writes about this administration’s disregard for law through its carefully selective enforcement vis-à-vis Federal voter registration law.

The Keystone law, an amendment (a rider in O’Grady’s terms) to the temporary payroll tax holiday bill passed last December, required Obama promptly to give thumbs up or down to the pipeline, and if he nixed it, he had to say why.  In his determination, Obama was explicitly enjoined by that law (which he signed, mind you) to consider the economy, energy security, foreign policy, employment, trade, and the environment.

In the event, Obama ruled the pipeline not to be in the national interest because of the State’s view that further environmental studies are required.  This directly contravenes the amendment, though, which specifically required that new environmental impact studies not be part of the consideration—there already having been three environmental studies completed in the last three years, each concluding minimal, if not trivial, impact.  O’Grady explains:

The three bullet points that cover this point in the rider couldn’t be much clearer: First, “the final environmental impact statement issued by the Secretary of State on August 26, 2011, satisfies all requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969…and section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.” Second, “any [O’Grady’s emphasis] modification” to the route “shall not require supplementation of the final environmental impact statement….” Third, “no further Federal environmental review shall be required.”

And so

…if the law is to be followed, since the president failed to make a national interest determination as specified in the rider, it means that “the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline…shall be in effect by operation of law.”

The only question, as O’Grady suggests, is whether Obama can be made to obey the letter and the spirit of that law—whether Obama believes in the rule of law, or in his rule by law.

In Louisiana, officials are attempting to follow Federal law, specifically the National Voter Registration Act of 1973, also known as the Motor Voter Law.  It seems that the election officials of Louisiana’s state government are following Federal law too zealously (a condition with which Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, and others are quite familiar).

Obama’s lawsuits focus on the Motor Voter Law’s Section 7, which requires officials at state health and social service agencies, among others, to offer voter registration forms to all eligible adults, even if the same person visits the agency multiple times: that person is to get the forms at each visit.  The Feds have offered no evidence that this is failing to occur beyond the occasional honest error rate; what drew their eye, though, is the state’s adherence to Section 8 of the law.

Section 8 requires the state to purge its voter rolls of deceased and otherwise ineligible voters specifically to reduce the opportunity for voter fraud—which Progressives deny is happening at all.  It seems, though, that several Louisiana parishes have implausible voter registration rates: there are more registered voters in each of these parishes than there are people actually living in them.

The goal here is revealed by the “settlements” Obama’s administration has imposed on other states after similar suits were filed.  New Mexico, Indiana, Rhode Island, and others are now prevented from purging their voter rolls of any ineligible names until after the November elections.  Thus, the dead and other ineligibles, Democrats all, will be permitted to vote in the coming election.

Here, too, this administration’s choice between rule of law and rule by law is manifest.

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