Can President Obama Ignore the Law? Yes, says his AG-designate
One other added benefit of the upcoming Obama years (and there are likely to be few) is the end of the dishonest or at least inaccurate charges about the radical nature of the Bush Administration’s views on executive powers. The most annoying one that I’ve heard a million times from Keith Olbermann but also from otherwise intelligent and respectable constitutional and international lawyers: President Bush was tantamount to a dictator because he claimed to have the power to “override” or “ignore” federal law pursuant to his Commander in Chief powers.
As I’ve argued elsewhere, President Bush’s views on the exclusivity of the Commander in Chief power were hardly radical. President Clinton made essentially the same arguments, as did prior presidents. And the famous Justice Jackson opinion in Youngstown recognized that in certain situations, the President could indeed ignore unconstitutional statutes that infringed on his exclusive constitutional powers. And President Obama is almost certainly going to follow that same approach, at least if he listens to Eric Holder, his Attorney General Designate (Eric Posner has the details on Holder’s views here). I look forward to those criticisms of the radical, monarchist executive power views of the Obama Administration.