The overreaction to this, from people like Larry Tribe, has been hyperbolic. I’ve been having some arguments on Twitter with people, including Bob Zubrin (who is the Never Trumper’s Never Trumper), on the roles and responsibilities of the branches of government and of the federal workforce. Bob thinks that someone should disobey (or even countermand) a presidential order that they consider illegal, and somehow still keep their job. My position is that while no one is required to break the law or violate the Constitution, they are not the law unto themselves. Employees of the executive branch report ultimately to the president, and are accountable to him or her. The president is accountable either to the states in an election, or to the Congress, who can impeach and remove him. There is nothing in the Constitution about insubordination to the White House being a check on executive power, and to allow it would be to remove the unelected employees of the executive branch from any accountability to any one at all, giving us a tyranny of the bureaucracy. I don’t think that Bob has fully thought this through. I’m sure that Madison et al would never have intended this.
I agree with Ben Sasse:
Sasse also emphasized the importance of three separate, co-equal branches of government, including ensuring the Justice Department is “very, very insulated from partisan politics.”
“We have three branches of government, not one, not 17, right? And so you need to have investigative and prosecutorial functions be in the Article II branch of government. They need to be in the executive branch, but there should be lots of insulation from the career civil servants and the leadership of the Justice Department from political decision-making at the White House,” he said.
It would help if we had an educational system that actually taught about the Constitution. And a president who had read it.