Unlike the Consuls, which were required to cooperate with the Senate, the Dictator could act on his own authority without the Senate, though the dictator would usually act in unison with the Senate all the same. There was no appeal from the sentence of the dictator (unless the dictator changed his mind), and accordingly the lictors bore the axes in the fasces before them even in the city, as a symbol of their absolute power over the lives of the citizens.The implicit link to fascism there (the symbol of the dictator was the symbol of the Italian Fascists) is nothing less than sycnhronicity. And David Cole's response, also at the first link, is absolutely sound on both the law and the attempt by the Administration to turn this into a matter of public approval. The attempt is classic Rove, and it shows, once again, that Rove is absolutely out of his depth now.
The dictator's imperium granted him the powers to change any Roman law as he saw fit, and these changes lasted as long as the dictator remained in power.
And David Cole's praise of the student response is right, too.
Clearly, the kids are alright. (Thanks to jane for the link to watertiger.)