Can government officials pick and choose the laws it enforces?

There is a disturbing trend that I’ve noticed in recent years. That is, government officials choosing which laws they will enforce. Just yesterday, the Obama Administration decided not to enforce the employer mandate part of ObamaCare for at least a year until 2015. This may be a good or a bad policy in and of itself, but ObamaCare is one law. How can you take a law that is still on the books and just not enforce it? As Michael Cannon over at Cato Institute notes, if you delay one part of the law, you really have to delay the whole thing.

The issue has arisen recently in the debate over gay marriage as well. Back in 2011, the Obama Administration made the decision not to enforce DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) which passed Congress with large bi-partisan majorities and was signed by then-President Clinton.

And then there is the recent Supreme Court decision which essentially allows Jerry Brown, California’s Governor to pick and choose which laws relating to gay marriage he wishes to enforce.

Ultimately, this is not about health care or even gay marriage, but whether the law is the law and whether government officials must obey and uphold the law as written (like the rest of us) or whether they can pick and choose when and whom it is enforced upon. Dangerous precedents indeed, particularly in light of the IRS abuses of conservative organizations that have recently come to light.

With the IRS in charge of enforcing so much of the new health law and Obama now able to pick and choose which portions to enforce and upon whom, it is only a matter of time before his political opponents are targeted, no?

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