Congressman Fears Obama Could Suspend Election Laws

Amidst calls for POTUS to run for third term

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) fears that the Obama administration’s refusal to enforce immigration laws could lead to Obama himself failing to enforce election laws, a concern voiced amidst calls by some for Obama to run for a third term in office.

Image: Barack Obama (Wikimedia Commons).

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday, Gowdy asked Simon Lazarus, senior counsel to the Constitutional Accountability Center, “If the president can fail to enforce immigration laws, can the president likewise fail to enforce election laws?”


Lazarus responded “no,” to which Gowdy shot back, “Why not? If he can suspend mandatory minimum and immigration laws, why not election laws?”

“Because we live in a government of laws, and the president is bound to obey them and apply them,” Lazarus answered. Gowdy responded by reiterating that Obama was not applying immigration and marijuana laws, a stance with which Lazarus disagreed.

Gowdy subsequently asked George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley what the likelihood of the administration suspending election laws was, to which Turley responded, “I think that some of these areas I can’t imagine to be justified through prosecutorial discretion. It’s not prosecutorial discretion to go into a law and say, an entire category of people will no longer be subject to the law. That’s a legislative decision.”

Turley added that the country was currently embroiled in “the most serious constitutional crisis in my lifetime” and that Congress was becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Concern about the Obama administration’s failure to enforce election laws arrives in the aftermath of a Washington Post editorial by Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor of history and education at New York University, which caused controversy by advocating that Obama run for a third term in order to avoid being made a scapegoat by critics within his own party.

Despite acknowledging Obama’s record low approval ratings, Zimmerman asked, “If Obama could run again, would he be facing such fervent objections from Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)?”

“Probably not. Democratic lawmakers would worry about provoking the wrath of a president who could be reelected. Thanks to term limits, though, they’ve got little to fear,” he added.

Under the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, a President is limited to two terms in office.

Zimmerman’s argument caused understandable consternation amongst conservatives, some of whom expressed the fear (which is somewhat routine when any president is coming to the end of his term), that the stage was being set for some kind of engineered crisis that would be exploited to justify a third term for Obama.