The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

April 16, 2013

Government of laws or men?


DANVILLE — Editor:

Sen. Rand Paul’s convictions, courage and judgment were on display with his surprise, old-fashioned filibuster recently. By aiming at prying answers from President Obama about drone use, he roused many dispirited citizens and fairly shocked some political types.

Many Americans have problems with domestic drone use, for increased surveillance or for killing, as it involves our 4th and 5th Amendment rights. One question crystallizes many people’s greatest concern: Does the president have authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?

If “yes,” our 5th Amendment is shredded. Through oral and written testimony by John Brennan and Eric Holder, President Obama had for weeks been legally nonresponsive — steadfastly dodging such questions while appearing to answer. Within hours after Paul’s filibuster, Holder tersely wrote the answer is, “No.”

It is regrettable Obama only grudgingly conceded but this single word, which itself raises important ambiguities. Separately, Obama’s intransigent attack on the 1st Amendment, through his PPACA contraceptive services mandate, is already under court challenge by Catholic bishops and others.

Unhappily, all these matters, and much more, beg another question: Will our Constitution henceforth be followed without equivocation or reservation by this president? It is increasingly unclear that his actions always accord with his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution …” The essence is whether this president acknowledges that ours is a government of laws and not of men. Sadly, it is now appropriate to scrutinize President Obama’s actions with this in mind.

Lynn McLinden