Remember those WWJD bracelets that were so popular in the ’90s? Well, an expert at the Law Library of Congress — a non-partisan branch of the Library of Congress that has advised Congress and the Supreme Court since 1832 — tackled a slightly different question: What would George III do when faced with a law he didn’t like?
Not even the King of England at the time of the American Revolution had the authority to suspend laws unilaterally, the Law Library expert wrote in a memorandum to the Senate committee tasked with responding to President Obama’s recent executive orders on the enforcement of immigration law.
One hundred years before the American Revolution, another British king had “attempted to suspend a number of laws,” contributing to the onset of the Glorious Revolution in England, a senior foreign-law specialist at the Law Library writes in the memo to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “King George III,” the specialist goes on to remind the committee, “was thus unable to enact or repeal any laws unilaterally without the involvement of Parliament.”
The memo, obtained by National Review Online, was written in response to a request by Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), according to a top aide in his office. It does not address the question of whether Obama’s latest executive actions amount to a suspension of the laws, although Obama and other Democrats referred to such orders as a decision to “suspend” deportations. But it is a clear and incendiary jab at the president, just days before House and Senate Republicans are scheduled to attend a joint retreat in Pennsylvania to discuss their agenda for the 115th Congress.
At the top of the list: Deciding on a response to Obama’s decision to “suspend” deportations of millions of illegal immigrants, who will instead receive some of the benefits of legal status. The GOP regards Obama’s executive orders as a way of rewriting the law without congressional input. House Republicans decided to use a Department of Homeland Security–funding bill to block implementation of the orders issued in November, as well as other related immigration-policy decisions. That bill may struggle in the Senate, where some Republicans up for reelection in Democratic-leaning states worry about a political backlash.