- - Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Washington Times suggests that “Mr. Obama has never been a particular fan of the First Amendment guarantee of the free exercise of religion” (Ignoring the Constitution, Commentary & Analysis, Oct. 8). President Obama also seems to be willing to ignore the constitutional aspects of our bicameral legislature. Mr. Obama put a letter to government employees on the front page of the Office of Personnel Management’s website. This letter brings politics into the civil service arena.

Most people would agree with the bulk of the letter. However, in it the president uses his position as chief executive to make a cheap political point — almost at the very moment of proclaiming the nonpartisan nature of the civil service system. He declares, “So while the budget fights in Washington are too often partisan, your service to the country must never be,” but then he descends into politics by saying: “This shutdown was completely preventable. It should not have happened. And the House of Representatives can end it as soon as it follows the Senate’s lead, and funds your work in the United States Government without trying to attach highly controversial and partisan measures in the process.”

The House of Representatives did pass a budget bill. Last I heard, it was the Senate that has refused to so much as debate it — or pass its own bill. Some people might put more blame on the House than on the Senate for the overall state of affairs, but nobody can deny that under the Constitution, the Senate has an equal role in passing laws, which it has chosen to ignore, and this is certainly an aspect of the problem. When the president digs at just the House without mentioning the Senate’s role, he pushes the civil service into partisan wrangling.

The presidential office is one that all civil servants must respect, regardless of their political leanings, and Mr. Obama should not use his position of authority over them to hammer his political opponents.

TONY MONTANARO

Stafford, Va.