Attorney General Eric Holder's message to state attorneys general that they aren't always obligated
to defend laws banning same-sex marriage is a dangerous "overreach" that chips away at "one of the hallmarks of America," Ari Fleischer warned Tuesday.
In an exclusive interview with "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV, Fleischer, a former White House spokesman for President George W. Bush, charged that the Obama administration is flouting the Constitution with such selective enforcement.
"Just because the president has the pen, it doesn't give him the right to doodle on our Constitution," Fleisher said.
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Holder on Tuesday cited his own experience in refusing to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act, as well as similar stances taken more recently by state attorneys general, in saying laws raising questions of equal protection deserve a higher level of scrutiny, The Associated Press reported.
Fleischer said Holder is climbing a slippery slope with that logic.
"If this attorney general, because he feels so passionately, strongly, about an issue, can decide he will not enforce the existing laws of the land, what stops the next attorney general from coming along and saying, 'Well, I won't enforce these other rules of the land?'" Fleischer asked.
"One of the hallmarks of America that makes us a beacon of liberty and freedom and strength is that we're a nation of laws, not men," he added. "When the laws are written, regardless of whether you liked them or didn't like them . . . we have an obligation no matter what our party is to accept them and enforce them . . . There's a way to undo laws if you don't like them, and it's called change the law."
Fleischer said Obama is trying to "undo everything that was done before."
He added that Republicans need to be "aggressively engaging" both politically and legally when "there is an overreach like this," noting, for example, that Obama has been "taken to task" on the National Labor Relations Board for "illegal appointment that he's made."
"But there also should be a political price to pay, and regardless of anybody's opinions about gay marriage," he said. "Is this the way our country is supposed to be based, that people can pick and choose the laws they don't want to enforce, particularly if the person doing the picking and choosing is the chief law enforcement officer, the attorney general of the United States?"
Fleischer also said he's "very, very uncomfortable" with an Arizona law now being scrutinized by Gov. Jan Brewer.
"This bill would . . . deny gays food from being served to them if somebody has a religious objection to serving food" to gay people, he noted. "It doesn't matter what your orientation is or your religion is, religion should not be used as a way to deny somebody a basic food service."
"I get very uncomfortable when I hear about things like this, because it's so overreaching, so broad. People have a religious right to practice their religion in peace. People cannot make priests accept gay priests, married priests. There's a whole realm of established procedure and acceptance by an American tradition, a religious tradition that we honor. I'm very uncomfortable with the way it's going in Arizona on this particular provision."
Fleischer, who now runs his own public relations firm, Fleischer Sports PR, said there's a vast difference between his former boss, Bush, and Obama.
"You always got the sense that President Bush felt it was an honor to be around the troops," Fleischer said. "Obama feels it's a duty to be around the troops. That tells you everything you need to know, and the troops know it . . . They feel it, they know it, they see it. They appreciate President Bush for it."
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