The Obama Administration’s decision to waive provisions of the Jones Act last month when releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is typical of this Administration’s disregard for the principle of equal protection under the law when it becomes too inconvenient.

For example, we’ve seen well over 1,000 waivers of the new health care law for those with the influence to get them. The Jones Act waiver was even more transparently political, as the only real crisis at the time of the oil release was a crisis in President Obama’s approval ratings.

The Heritage Foundation is no supporter of the Jones Act, a protectionist measure that artificially inflates American industry’s maritime transport costs and has had the perverse result (typical of most protectionist measures) of contributing to the long-term decline of the industry it was designed to protect. But the rule of law, applied even-handedly to all, is the foundation of democracy and an essential element of economic freedom.

When regulations become too burdensome, government by waiver becomes inevitable, and that is something no freedom-loving society can long tolerate.