Since his first term, Obama thinks that Congress has unreasonably held him back by preventing him from closing Guantanamo Bay.

There are two ways to think about this. One is that a law is a law, and Obama’s assertion of his constitutional powers to ignore a provision of a law is equivalent to the same power reserved by President Bush. Both presidents should be condemned for violating the law, and perhaps even punished. (I certainly don’t think Congress will ease up on Gitmo now.)

The second way of thinking starts with the premise that the law as passed was clearly unconstitutional, that there was no reasonable way for the president to challenge its constitutionality without abdicating his responsibilities as commander-in-chief, and so the least offensive course of action would be to ignore it. In this understanding, some laws are more important than others. Some laws are much more sacred than others.

The ACLU, by the way, takes the second view. The same ACLU that believes that the executive branch repeatedly violated the Constitution by following unconstitutional surveillance laws now believes that President Obama was correct in ignoring part of a law that was clearly constitutional.