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The only constitutional remedy left: Impeachment

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By Andrew P. Napolitano
Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

It has been well established under the Constitution and throughout our history that the president's job as the chief federal law enforcement officer permits him to put his ideological stamp on the nature of the work done by the executive branch. The courts have characterized this stamp as “discretion.”

Thus, when exercising their discretion, some presidents veer toward authority, others toward freedom. The president has discretion to adapt law enforcement to the needs of the times and to his reading of the wishes of the American people. Yet that discretion has a serious and mandatory guiding light — namely, that the president will do so faithfully.

The word “faithfully” appears in the oath of office that is administered to every president. The reason for its use is to assure Americans that their wishes for government behavior, as manifested in written law, would be carried out even if the president personally disagrees with the laws he swore to enforce.

President Barack Obama has taken the concept of discretion and so distorted it — and has taken the obligation of faithful enforcement and so rejected it — that his job as chief law enforcer has become one of incompetent madness or chief lawbreaker.

Time after time, in areas as disparate as civil liberties, immigration, foreign affairs and health care, the president has demonstrated a propensity for rejecting his oath and doing damage to our fabric of liberty that cannot easily be undone by a successor. He has permitted:

• unconstitutional and unbridled spying on all Americans all the time

• illegal aliens to remain here and continue to break the law, even instructing them on how to get away with it

• his Department of Veterans Affairs to so neglect patients in government hospitals that many of them died and it even destroyed records to hide its misdeeds

• his Internal Revenue Service to enforce the law more heavily against his political opponents than against his friends and to destroy government computer records in order to hide its misdeeds

• his friends to be relieved of the burdens of timely compliance with ObamaCare and burdened his enemies with tortured interpretations of that law — even interpretations that were rejected by the very Congress that enacted the law and interpretations that were invalidated by the Supreme Court.

Obama has done these things with a cool indifference and he has threatened to continue to do so until the pressure builds on his political opponents to see things his way.

The Framers could not have intended a president so devoid of fidelity to the rule of law that it is nearly impossible to distinguish between incompetence and lawlessness. But the Framers did give us a remedy — removal from office. It is the remaining constitutional means to save the freedoms the Constitution was intended to guarantee.

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel.

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