LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Limiting executive power upholds rule of law

To the editor:

In his May 20 column, the Review-Journal’s John L. Smith accused me of being on the wrong side of history. Earlier this year, with a majority of the states, I joined Nevada to a federal lawsuit to uphold the separation of powers under our Constitution. Mr. Smith believes that President Barack Obama’s unilateral executive actions on immigration reach the right policy outcome. He then argues that the lawsuit to stop those executive actions must be political in nature.

As I said at the time we joined the lawsuit, before the U.S. Congress, in an op-ed for the Review-Journal and once again now, the lawsuit is not about taking a political or even a policy position on immigration. As citizens of Nevada and of the United States, we cannot and we must not circumvent the Constitution every time we see an important policy objective we wish to achieve — that goes for Republicans, Democrats and everyone else. The structure of our Constitution must transcend politics. The Founding Fathers understood that separating legislative power from executive power protects our liberty. That insight is just as true in 2015 as it was in 1789.

There has always been and always will be a temptation to bend or even break the Constitution in order to achieve a policy objective at any given time. That was why Benjamin Franklin famously said that Americans have a republic, but only so long as we can keep it. We must resist the temptation to dismiss the Constitution when it strikes us as inconvenient.

As a former military officer and as Nevada’s attorney general, I swore an oath to uphold and defend our Constitution. The test of that oath is not when standing by the Constitution is easy, but rather when it is hard.

It is a fact that we are a nation of immigrants, and I believe that is a great thing. I am a descendant of immigrants, and I believe in the American dream. I believe that our nation needs immigration reform. But that reform must come from the U.S. Congress, the branch that the Constitution grants the power to write federal laws. The president cannot legislate. Presidential legislation masquerading as “selective enforcement” is not reform.

Such executive action is a shortsighted step toward a system of government that none of us wants. It is a step toward a system of government that none of us should desire. It is a step toward a system of government that none of us should allow.

If history is to be our guide, standing for liberty and the rule of law is standing on the right side of history. It is those things that have drawn immigrants to our borders for more than two centuries. It is our commitment to our Constitution that will draw immigrants to our borders for generations to come. Let us not confuse the separation of powers with political preference.



The writer is Nevada’s attorney general

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State AG Laxalt named ‘rising star’ by RNC

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt was named as a “rising star” at the Republican National Committee’s Spring Meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Laxalt, who was elected as attorney general in 2014, is the youngest-serving attorney general in the nation at 36.

Three other Republicans were also named as “rising stars,” including West Virginia State Rep. Jill Upson, Connecticut State Sen. Art Linares and Vice-Chair of the Oklahoma Republican Party Estela Hernandez.

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