Before the American experiment began in 1776, the colonists were ruled by a king. The king derived his powers from God, and was beyond human questioning, thus the "Divine Right of Kings."
He was a sovereign, meaning supreme in power _ unlimited by any other. A synonym for sovereign is imperial. From this root came imperialism, the domination of one by another.
The American Constitution, with its checks and balances and three branches of government, was designed to banish forever the prospect of an American king. Over the years, there have been attempts to create an imperial American presidency. One governing by fiat, without regard to laws, the Congress, or the Constitution that the president swears to preserve, protect and defend.
Within living memory, there was Richard Nixon, and the most recent attempt is the administration of Barack Obama.
Last year, the state of Arizona, in an effort to protect its citizens from drugs and crime, passed a law patterned after federal law to help control illegal immigration. This law was immediately challenged by the Obama administration.
Can you imagine an American president filing a lawsuit against fellow Americans on behalf of foreigners in this country illegally? It happened, and just last week, the Supreme Court ruled on its constitutionality.
The law's key provision -- that immigration status can be verified by authorities during a proper police detainment and thus reported to the federal authorities for action -- was upheld. Unbelievably, the Imperial Obama Administration directed the Department of Homeland Security to ignore Arizona police reports.
The DHS announced that it is suspending its agreements with Arizona police over reporting illegal aliens who are found in the state. So, while the Supreme Court upheld police officers' right to stop and question subjects regarding their immigration status, the feds will not act to deport those individuals unless the suspect has a felony record, has previously been removed from the country or is a recent border crosser.
Wait a minute. Aren't they breaking the law by just being here? They are illegal immigrants. Are Arizona's border patrols and local police risking their lives trying to secure our borders and protect American citizens, just to have the feds ignore their efforts? Didn't President Obama take an oath to uphold the laws of the United States?
Let me see if I get this next debacle straight. Recently, King Obama declared a sort of amnesty for illegals who were bought here as children and have since obeyed the law, attended college or served in the military. Well, probably not a bad thing, but doesn't Congress make the laws? Can a president simply make a decree and hundreds of thousands of people are now legal residents?
We seem to have another example of selective law enforcement. Is he forgetting those who have chosen the legal way to come to America? Those who are waiting and going through the proper channels are being put behind those who have entered illegally. I wonder if Hispanics voted Republican, would the imperial president be fast tracking them to citizenship?
Let me see if I get this next fiasco straight. Attorney General Eric Holder is defying Congress and refusing to turn over all requested documents in the "Fast and Furious" gun-running debacle that led to the murder of an American border patrol officer by weapons supplied by our government.
I would venture if any screw-up ever needed explaining, this is the one. Holder is refusing to deliver all the documents, and the House of Representatives has voted to hold him in contempt.
Once again our imperial president defies the law and claims "executive privilege." This smells like the day-old shelf in a downstate fish market.
Courts have defined "executive privilege" as covering only direct deliberations of the president and his top staff. The president has publicly said that he had no knowledge of "Fast and Furious." So, if he had no knowledge, where is the privilege?
On the other hand, if the president did have knowledge, then he is obstructing the function of the Congress and thwarting the law. If so, he has lied to the American people, and the scandal reaches to the top of government.
An American has been murdered. What do they have that is so damning that "executive privilege" must be used, or is this just another example of our imperial president picking and choosing which laws he wants to obey?
In America, the president is no better than a coal miner, farmer, doctor or truck driver. We are all equal before the law. If the imperial president can choose which laws to obey, why can't we?
Chuck Pinkey is the owner of River Valley New Holland Inc. in Otego. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Star and its editorial board.