Writes Bob G:
By asserting that Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and ordering the justice department to no longer defend the 1996 law in federal court, Obama just validated the nullification movement. If the agent of the States acting through the executive branch can nullify a law duly passed by the legislative branch, without resort to the judicial branch or a specific clause in the Constitution, then the States as the principals (Article VII) can exercise a like power whenever their agent exceeds its constitutional grant of power.
And how about Thomas Jefferson on the Subject? Thanks to Derek Sheriff for pointing out the following from Williams Watkins Jr:
“Departmentalist theory is perhaps best examined in the context of President Jefferson’s approach to the Sedition Act. Upon entering office, Jefferson ordered the cessation of all federal sedition prosecutions and he pardoned those who had been convicted. In 1804, Jefferson received a letter from Abigail Adams criticizing his handling of the Sedition Act controversy. Mrs. Adams argued that because the judges had upheld the Sedition Act, President Jefferson had overstepped his constitutional bounds when terminating prosecutions and pardoning offenders.
In a polite response, Jefferson reminded Mrs. Adams that “nothing in the constitution has given [the judges] the right to decide for the executive, more than the Executive to decide for them.” Both branches, continued Jefferson, “are equally independent in the sphere assigned to them.” Jefferson recognized that the judges, “believing the law constitutional, had a right to pass a sentence of fine and imprisonment, because that power was placed in their hands by the constitution.” However, this did not bind him when performing his duties as chief executive. Because he believed the Sedition Act was unconstitutional, he “was bound to remit the execution of it.”