NY Times Slams NC GOP for Limiting Dem Successor, Cheers When Obama Does Same to Trump

December 22nd, 2016 4:58 PM

New York Times columnists and editors may condemn Republicans for limiting what their Democratic successors can do – as what’s happening after a tough loss by the sitting Republican governor of North Carolina Pat McCrory to Democrat Jim Cooper -- but the Times celebrates it when President Obama does it, or is being encouraged by left-wing groups to do so.

Coral Davenport reported the off-lead story in Wednesday’s edition, “Obama Leans On a 1953 Law to Ban Drilling – Bids to Save a Legacy on the Environment.”

President Obama announced on Tuesday what he called a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling along wide areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic Seaboard as he tried to nail down an environmental legacy that cannot quickly be reversed by Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Obama invoked an obscure provision of a 1953 law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which he said gives him the authority to act unilaterally. While some presidents have used that law to temporarily protect smaller portions of federal waters, Mr. Obama’s declaration of a permanent drilling ban on portions of the ocean floor from Virginia to Maine and along much of Alaska’s coast is breaking new ground. The declaration’s fate will almost certainly be decided by the federal courts.

“It’s never been done before,” said Patrick Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School. “There is no case law on this. It’s uncharted waters.”

The move -- considered creative by supporters and abusive by opponents -- is one of many efforts by Mr. Obama to protect what environmental policies he can from a successor who has vowed to roll them back. The president, in concert with United Nations leaders, rushed countries to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change, putting the multinational accord into force in record time, before Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

Environmentalists are already drawing comparisons between Mr. Obama’s use of the 1953 law to ban new drilling to what critics and opponents called his novel and audacious efforts to create new climate change regulations: He turned to an obscure, rarely used provision in the 1970 Clean Air Act to write sweeping regulations that would require states to shift their electricity systems from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

And the Times showed its approval of Obama’s latest abuse of power in its lead editorial Thursday, “Leaving the Arctic Alone.”

Reporter Caitlin Dickerson’s “A Creative Plea From Immigrants As Obama Departs – Suggesting Pardons to stop the deportation of 200,000” led the front of Wednesday’s National section. The paper’s liberal slant is most blatant on immigration, and Dickerson sees no problems with what she calls a “creative legal argument,” while using newly hip liberal hero Alexander Hamilton (also a fan of the Electoral College, but never mind that now).

Confronting a tight deadline and armed with a creative legal argument, immigration advocates have made a final plea to President Obama to shield up to 200,000 legal immigrants with minor criminal records from deportation.

Drawing on constitutional framers including Alexander Hamilton, a group of more than 100 advocacy organizations wrote to the president on Tuesday arguing that he is constitutionally empowered to protect some green card holders with minor criminal records by exercising his pardon power before he leaves office.

They first made the argument in a memo sent to the White House earlier this month.

The advocates say this would be a historic first; pardon power has never been used with immigration law violations. By doing so, they argue, Mr. Obama could reframe his legacy on immigration, adding a triumph after he failed to address the issue of the vast majority of the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants and instead earned the nickname “deporter in chief” for expelling more people than any other president in history.

The group consists of 100,000 to 200,000 legal permanent residents, also known as green card holders, with two or fewer misdemeanor convictions for crimes like petty theft or marijuana possession that render them deportable under federal immigration law.


In the past, presidents -- including Mr. Obama -- have pardoned immigrants for federal criminal convictions, that way shielding them from deportation. But the immigrants that advocates are now asking Mr. Obama to help were convicted of violating state laws, which the president cannot pardon.

The legal reasoning behind the proposal is linked to the initial writing of the Constitution’s pardon clause. The clause has been used almost exclusively for criminal convictions, not civil ones like immigration violations. But the advocates argue that when the Constitution was drafted, the distinction between criminal and civil law was less clear, and that pardon power has been used to dismiss offenses that would constitute civil violations under today’s standards.

In Alamance County, N.C., a rural, predominantly white community near the Virginia border, with a sleepy main street lined with American flags and “We Support Blue” banners, noncitizens are particularly on edge about the transfer of power to Mr. Trump.


Sheriff Terry S. Johnson, who led the department during the lawsuit and is still in office, is now running to become a federal marshal, a position for which he would be appointed by Mr. Trump and confirmed by the Senate. He said he thought the Obama administration had not deported enough immigrants, but he acknowledged that the moral question raised by the pardon request was not easily answered.