We Don’t Decide How the Laws Operate. Except When We Do.

I couldn’t help noticing the following quote from President Obama in politico.com this morning –

We’re a nation of laws. We don’t individually make our own decisions about how the laws operate.

The context is an article about the case of Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of providing classified material to the Wikileaks website. The point of the article was to report criticism of the President for stating that Manning “broke the law”, when in fact he has yet to be convicted.

However to me the quote is interesting for a different reason – the fact that it stands in remarkable contrast to a couple of other recent reports about the administration’s views on the rule of law –

  1. CNBC asserted recently that Obama’s Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner “ignored the law that explicitly forbid the government from putting conditions on banks that wanted to repay TARP. … This was completely illegal—but he got away with it.”
  2. MSNBC reported in March that the President himself has decided that he “will no longer defend the federal law that says marriage can exist only between a man and a woman”

So apparently the administration thinks there are circumstances in which it’s perfectly fine for people to make their own decisions about how the laws operate. As long as they are those people.

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