By Marco Rubio
October 2, 2014
It is no secret that the Obama administration has demonstrated questionable commitment to the rule of law. It has undermined the separation of powers by disregarding congressional enactments while pushing executive power far beyond its constitutional boundaries. It has further undermined limited government by disregarding federalism and pushing Washington-knows-best legislation that far exceeds anything the Founding Fathers could have conceived.
In recent years, a politicized Justice Department has refused to defend bipartisan legislation in court and resisted congressional oversight. Its practice of entering into extremely generous “settlements” with environmental and other liberal groups raises questions about whether the administration is welcoming lawsuits as a tool to bypass Congress and enter new regulations by judicial decree.
Last week’s announcement that Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. will leave the administration provides the president the opportunity to undo some of this damage by nominating an attorney general who is committed to putting the rule of law first.
America deserves a nominee to lead the Justice Department who is fully committed to vigorous application of our nation’s Constitution and laws without political bias or personal agenda. I expect the president will nominate a member of his political party to the position of attorney general. That is his prerogative. But Congress also must insist that the president nominate a professional lawyer who recognizes the special mission of the Justice Department and who can win the broad confidence of the American people.
The current leadership of the Justice Department has indicated that it is not fully comfortable with one of its core missions — enforcement of federal criminal law. While individuals from a variety of perspectives have made a compelling case that American law has been over-criminalized and over-federalized, reform must come from Congress, not the administration. Also, reform should not begin with careless weakening of drug laws that have done so much to help end the violence and mayhem that plagued American cities in prior decades.
Today, there are thousands of federal crimes; so many that experts have stopped counting. Congress has added further to this bewildering maze of criminal law by giving regulators broad powers to spew forth countless new regulatory crimes. As a result, citizens and businesses have been exposed to society’s harshest judgment and punishment without any meaningful input from elected officials. Furthermore, many congressionally enacted laws are poorly drafted and lack a clear standard of intent, making it possible for well-meaning people to stumble into criminal liability.
Keep reading here.