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‘Nation of random enforcement’: Is America’s chief executive too powerful?

When President Obama chooses to enforce select portions of federal law, is he playing the part of chief executive or skirting around Congress and, by extension, the U.S. Constitution? 

That's the question House Republicans put forth in a House Judiciary Committee meeting Wednesday, stacking the witness panel with four fellow House GOP members and three law professors all too ready to deliver their thoughts on prosecutorial discretion, the notion that the chief executive can selectively enforce federal laws. 

"President Obama's decision to ignore the constitutional limits on his authority subverts the rule of law and threatens the individual liberty that our system of separated powers is designed to protect," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican congressman from Virginia, in his opening speech. 

House GOP committee members and witnesses invoked the three different scenarios in which they believed Obama "subverted" the law: the president's decision to delay the insurance mandate for certain employers, to give more discretion to immigration officers when dealing with illegal immigrants and the federal redefinition of welfare standards. 

Republican members of the committee were similarly peeved about the lax enforcement of the federal government's drug laws in states like Washington and Colorado, which recently legalized the sale and possession of marijuana. 

And they didn't shy from making their discontent known. 

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