The rule of law

Cities, counties, and states can no more deliberately disobey federal law than can individual citizens.  Willfully, if not always gleefully, adhering to the law is a basic tenet of our society.  Those disobeying the law, whether it is speeding down the highway, failing to pay taxes, or robbing a bank, must face the consequences.  Picking and choosing which laws to obey is simply not an option, no matter how noble or “right” the scofflaws may believe the situation to be.  It is simply the rule of law.

Underscoring the ongoing discussions about so-called sanctuary cities is the imperative of our rule of law.  Cities, counties, and states just like all citizens and visitors – are required to obey federal law.  Moreover, city, county, and state governments are required to enforce the law.  Anything less literally defines anarchy.

A major responsibility of the executive branches at all levels of government is enforcing the law.  A functioning society rightfully demands it.  The men and women of our city, county, and state law enforcement organizations are sworn to enforce the law, not to disregard, let alone deliberately disobey it.  Similarly, those elected to city councils, county boards of supervisors, and state legislatures are also sworn to enforce the law.  Our mayors and governors swear to enforce the law.  Enforcing laws is the reason for the executive branches of government at all levels.

Whatever the issue, local and state governments are also responsible for displaying leadership by obeying federal law.  Just as these levels of government would not permit average citizens, visitors, or businesses to disobey their laws, they must lead in obeying federal law – even laws with which they disagree.  Merely disagreeing with a law does not provide a defense for failing to obey or enforce it.  Imagine what would occur in the so-called sanctuary cities if citizens decided not to pay their property taxes, because they do not agree with the actions of their elected officials.  These citizens would undoubtedly face the legal consequences of their actions.  In our country, we do not simply choose not to obey a law; we work within the system to make our laws better.  

This system provides for changing or eliminating laws.  But disobeying the law is not an option, even when some declare it justifiable civil disobedience.  The right of the people to petition the level of government issuing laws is central to our democracy.  Our history is replete with examples in which bad laws were changed or eliminated.  That is the route to take if one believes that a law is flawed or wrong.  That is the course of action open to our elected officials.

However, lawmakers and elected officials choosing to publicly call for deliberately disobeying or failing to enforce federal law are guilty of sedition and should be punished accordingly.  Their deliberate disobedience and lack of enforcement provide for consequences, just as does deliberately failing to pay taxes.

In the current debates, the issue at hand is far more than failing to enforce existing immigration laws.  The matter before some elected officials is the fundamental rule of law.  Obey and enforce, or work to change it.  There are no other options.  Doing otherwise threatens the republic.  

Cities, counties, and states can no more deliberately disobey federal law than can individual citizens.  Willfully, if not always gleefully, adhering to the law is a basic tenet of our society.  Those disobeying the law, whether it is speeding down the highway, failing to pay taxes, or robbing a bank, must face the consequences.  Picking and choosing which laws to obey is simply not an option, no matter how noble or “right” the scofflaws may believe the situation to be.  It is simply the rule of law.

Underscoring the ongoing discussions about so-called sanctuary cities is the imperative of our rule of law.  Cities, counties, and states just like all citizens and visitors – are required to obey federal law.  Moreover, city, county, and state governments are required to enforce the law.  Anything less literally defines anarchy.

A major responsibility of the executive branches at all levels of government is enforcing the law.  A functioning society rightfully demands it.  The men and women of our city, county, and state law enforcement organizations are sworn to enforce the law, not to disregard, let alone deliberately disobey it.  Similarly, those elected to city councils, county boards of supervisors, and state legislatures are also sworn to enforce the law.  Our mayors and governors swear to enforce the law.  Enforcing laws is the reason for the executive branches of government at all levels.

Whatever the issue, local and state governments are also responsible for displaying leadership by obeying federal law.  Just as these levels of government would not permit average citizens, visitors, or businesses to disobey their laws, they must lead in obeying federal law – even laws with which they disagree.  Merely disagreeing with a law does not provide a defense for failing to obey or enforce it.  Imagine what would occur in the so-called sanctuary cities if citizens decided not to pay their property taxes, because they do not agree with the actions of their elected officials.  These citizens would undoubtedly face the legal consequences of their actions.  In our country, we do not simply choose not to obey a law; we work within the system to make our laws better.  

This system provides for changing or eliminating laws.  But disobeying the law is not an option, even when some declare it justifiable civil disobedience.  The right of the people to petition the level of government issuing laws is central to our democracy.  Our history is replete with examples in which bad laws were changed or eliminated.  That is the route to take if one believes that a law is flawed or wrong.  That is the course of action open to our elected officials.

However, lawmakers and elected officials choosing to publicly call for deliberately disobeying or failing to enforce federal law are guilty of sedition and should be punished accordingly.  Their deliberate disobedience and lack of enforcement provide for consequences, just as does deliberately failing to pay taxes.

In the current debates, the issue at hand is far more than failing to enforce existing immigration laws.  The matter before some elected officials is the fundamental rule of law.  Obey and enforce, or work to change it.  There are no other options.  Doing otherwise threatens the republic.