I vastly prefer a President that enforces ALL laws, however lame and however far he has to go "out of his way" than a President that illegally decides which to enforce on a case by case basis. The first kind is dangerous while the second is also capricious and unpredictable.
I might agree with you if laws had a reasonable shelf life -- if they had to be reviewed a few years later after the political hot blood has cooled and calmer heads can prevail.
Think of some past laws.
Do you really want to have to use a value of 3 for pi? Or drive at 55mph when you are travelling on empty, ruler straight roads in big sky country on a fine spring day? Should the employer who doesn't put up the required OSHA notices be busted every time, even if he never had heard of the law?
Remember -- laws include regulations too.
In an ideal world our laws would be so perfect, sensible and unambiguous that it never requires any kind of judgements to be made. In the real world, society could not function that way.
I think the key to having a lawful society is not the perfectly uniform treatment of laws but the perfectly uniform treatment of citizens.
This is how a society that is dependent on the judgement of its officials can still be workable. If the connected political contributor or high government official are equally subject to the law as the meanest citizen, then we have a good assurance of a just, fair and practical society. On the other hand any kind of organization that runs literally by its ostensible rules is paralyzed. This is why public employees who wish to strike but cannot by law can simply bring all productive work to a halt by obeying every rule they can think of.
There is a Chinese proverb -- many laws make many criminals. We have many laws. Government officials can and do have to act as circuit breakers to prevent the criminalization of ordinary citizens.
My problem with this law is two fold. It treats people as dangerous criminals when by most reasonable measures they are ordinary people. Secondly, it uses a determinant of criminality a standard that is not applied to all citizens equally. Affluent kids are valued and protected by government officials and almost never are tried for minor crimes.
The Clinton administration approach to this law seems to me to be perfectly crafted: to enforce the law but to take a stance that falls somewhere above a very robust presumption of innocence but not quite reaching the level of willfull blindness. I'm quite sure we will see similar kinds of judgement calls from the Bush administration about environmental laws that affect what they see as the native rights of landowners.
What the Bush administration has done is to make a value judgement. They legally do not have to enforce the law in this way. It is their choice and it flows from their beliefs and values.
It is legitimate to question their judgement and values from this.
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