When Government Acts Illegally

Today's lead editorial at The Wall Street Journal ("Congress's ObamaCare Exemption") is a breakthrough in the battle against big, corrupt government.

Someone in the conservative media has finally summoned the strength to call government's illegal actions "illegal." As the editorial states:

"This latest White House night at the improv is also illegal. OPM has no authority to pay for insurance plans that lack FEHBP contracts, nor does the Affordable Care Act permit either exchange contributions or a unilateral bump in congressional pay in return for less overall compensation. Those things require appropriations bills passed by Congress and signed by the President."

Conservatives seem to have a mental block, some psychological abhorrence to using the "I" word whengovernment breaks the law, which it does every day and in many ways affecting millions of Americans.

We hear about government "overreach" and "lawlessness." Conservatives will write that the Obama administration is undermining the rule of law, or the Constitution. In using those terms, however, we pull our punches and soften the blows.

When President Obama says he won't wait for Congress to act, and has turned his presidency towards an unconstitutional dictatorship, he is acting illegally. Republicans in Congress have yet to mutter the "I" word about Obama's actions. Instead, they pussyfoot around in ways that show weakness if not cowardice in the face of Obama's illegal "transformation" of our republican form of government.

If that is done out of respect for the American institution of the presidency, rather than some lesser motive, then it is actually disrespectful. Our constitutional institutions have been protected by the blood of patriots, and we dishonor them and the Constitution that they fought to defend by being anything less than candid and accurate.

Before the American Revolution, the British Parliament declared that certain acts of the King in contravention of the laws were "illegal." Some 19th century judicial opinions in America used the "I" word in describing actions of government that violated the Constitution.

We conservatives like precedent. There is precedent for calling out government's illegalities.

It is up to conservatives on the outside to change the lexicon. We haven't yet. Conservatives cannot properly address and treat the problem until we admit what it is. When government breaks the law and violates the Constitution, that is 'illegal.'