Sunday, March 18 , 2018, 8:37 pm | Fair 53º


Ron Fink: If Citizens Have to Follow Laws, So Should Public Servants

It may be one of those rare times when I agree with something Hillary Clinton said — if she really meant it and put it into practice as she carried out her duties as a public servant.

Recently an elected county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky refused to issue marriage licenses to gay or lesbian couples, citing her religious beliefs as the reason for this action.  

The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that these marriages were legal, so by not issuing the licenses she was violating the law; for her actions a judge has ordered her sent to jail for contempt of court after ordering her to issue those licenses.

The only reason that this case is causing any concern is because of the subject matter. Gay marriage is a volatile issue that has two very distinct and very vocal groups of supporters with opposing views. 

Both sides of this issue have made it their cause to impose their way of thinking on the other.

Keep in mind that it wasn’t too long ago that the Attorney General Eric Holder refused to defend prior administration challenges to policies enacted in the Bill Clinton administration on the same subject; he was heralded as a hero for abdicating his responsibility based on philosophical rather than legal reasons.

Whether you support gay marriage or not is your personal choice. I am not trying to argue the merits of either side of this issue but only trying to point out the hypocrisy of politicians who can’t follow the law themselves, condemning others who exercise the same poor judgment.

Elected and appointed officials and employees of all government entities are obligated to follow the laws; if they don’t like the laws, then they should either not run for elected office or resign and seek other employment.

The Rowan County clerk isn’t unique among government officials who haven’t followed the law. From the very smallest community to the White House, thousands of appointed and elected government officials violate the law every day, and judges don’t send them to jail for it.

For example, many cities in California and across the nation have created sanctuary cities for the express purpose of violating immigration laws; some states have legalized the use of marijuana even though it is still a violation of federal law to use it, and the Department of Justice has chosen to ignore many laws that the current president doesn’t like.

I am waiting for the day that a van load of federal agents in SWAT gear shows up and arrests elected officials at any of the city halls or board of supervisor meeting rooms who have created rules, policies or regulations that nullify the immigration laws of the United States by offering sanctuary to illegal aliens.

I am also waiting for that same group of agents to lock up the Attorney General and President of the United States for failing to enforce those same laws.

Where are the handcuffs for Hillary Clinton for her seeming violation of the security rules of the United States or her shady use of a non-profit created by her and her husband to set up a shadow State Department advisory group and employ people that the president expressly prohibited from employment?

Politicians have the same obligation to follow the law as citizens, as do the employees that are hired to administer government affairs. 

The hierarchy of laws begins at the federal level and trickles down to local government. My understanding is that local government can add to federal law, but not change it.  That logic follows through to the enforcement of the laws.

Justice is supposed to be blind, meaning that once a law is passed those who don’t comply are subject to punitive actions, but it appears that justice also has a political eye peeping through the blind fold when it comes to many transgressions.

This is a very important issue. The United States is supposed to be a nation of laws; laws designed to protect the rights of our citizens and protect our freedoms. 

Violating these laws should lead to serious investigations and prosecutions when it’s appropriate.  

In our system of government, if politicians don’t like a particular law then they have the right to try and convince enough of their peers to enact new laws or change the parts they find offensive, but they don’t have the right to simply ignore them.

The Rowan County clerk appears to be more of a political prisoner since her advocacy for a cause she believes in doesn’t fit the current narrative. 

Maybe if she had decided to accommodate illegal aliens as part of her official duties or issue licenses for pot dispensaries in violation of the law it may have been overlooked.

Hillary Clinton is right this time: “elected officials should follow the law.” 

She and every other politician and public servant should lead by example.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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