The president has continued to push a big government agenda, believing the government knows best. In a commencement speech at Howard University on Saturday, Obama urged the need for compromise in times of disagreement — yet he has a long history of acting on his own agenda by imposing the federal government upon individual states when he disagrees with their laws or decisions.
North Carolina and the Bathroom Bill
The state of North Carolina is in the throes of war with the federal government about the state’s recently passed “bathroom bill.” Formally known as HB2, the bill allows for single-sex bathrooms to remain and ensures that people can use public bathroom facilities without being unwillingly exposed to people of the opposite sex. The law also carves out an option for those who are transgender, gay, or LGBT, and says they can use single-occupancy restrooms regardless of their gender.
But the Obama administration has viciously gone after North Carolina for this controversial bill. The Justice Department sent a letter to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, stating that the law violates federal civil rights law. The letter gave the governor until Monday to say whether or not he would comply — but on Monday morning, he filed a lawsuit against the DOJ, asking it to rule that the law is not discriminatory.
“The Obama administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law and set restroom policies for public and private employers across the country, not just North Carolina,” McCrory said in a statement. “This is now a national issue that applies to every state and it needs to be resolved at the federal level.”
Arizona and Immigration
Arizona, which borders Mexico, has tried to solve its massive immigration problem by taking matters into its own hands — but the Obama administration just wouldn’t allow for it.
Arizona desperately tried to make its state safer by cracking down on the thousands of illegal immigrants who cross the border, which has led to heightened crime; but there’s been failed and inconsistent federal enforcement. Back in 2010, the Obama administration sued the state over its immigration law in an attempt to retain federal control over the issue of border security. Obama, in fact, went as far as to argue that the Arizona law, which required state and local police to investigate the immigration status of anyone it suspected (within reason) of being an illegal immigrant, was unconstitutional.
“Seeking to address the issue through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves,” said former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Alabama and Voting Rights
In September 2015, the state of Alabama announced it would be shutting down or reducing services at 34 of its Department of Motor Vehicles offices. The decision came as a result of an $11 million budget cut, and the reductions and closures impacted the ability of those within the state, specifically African-Americans, to obtain or renew their drivers licenses — or so the federal government said.
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced in December 2015 that it was launching an investigation into whether or not the state of Alabama was discriminating against African-American residents, believing the decision would disenfranchise them after a 2014 state law passed requiring valid photo identification to vote.
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“This U.S. DOT investigation is nothing more than a weak attempt to embarrass the people of Alabama and exploit our state in the name of a political agenda,” said Alabama Gov. Bob Bentley, a Republican.
Federalization of Police Forces
After the Ferguson and Baltimore riots resulting from the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, Obama seized upon the opportunity to call for a takeover of state and local policing.
“Now the challenge for us as the federal government is that we don’t run these police forces,” Obama said in the Rose Garden in April 2015. “I can’t federalize every police force in the country and force them to retrain.”
Knowing that law enforcement is the responsibility of local governments and not the federal government, Obama recognized his limitations. But he is desperately trying to make it his responsibility by attaching more conditions to federal funding of state and local law-enforcement programs.
Obama also announced changes in the 1033 program, a federal initiative that transfers surplus military equipment to police agencies across the country. NBC News has reported that the new policy is meant to stop “tanks and other tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, firearms and ammunition measuring .50 caliber and larger, grenade launchers, and bayonets” from being distributed to local policies agencies. In response to the riots, the policy also placed restrictions upon the distribution of armored tactical vehicles like those in Ferguson, to keep them from ending up in the hands of police agencies.
Each of these separate issues should have been handled at the state level — yet the Obama administration overreached its authority to involve itself in state and local affairs. Obama has had no problem using his executive authority throughout his tenure to enact the legislation he sees fit, but his blatant disregard for states’ rights is reprehensible.