Friday, July 8, 2011

The Supposed Public Debt Clause and 14th Amendment Debate Is Senseless

The cartoon has a spoof of Star Wars that I love.

Luke, Ben and Han , like in the real movie, are in the Falcon where Luke is practicing with his light saber for the first time while having a helmet over his head blocking his vision.

In the movie Luke, in a sort of consdescending sort of way, goes to Han "You don't believe in the Force do you". In the Family Guy cartoon there is a line added from Han Solo - "You mean that thing you did not Know anything about till 5 minutes ago". (paraphrased).

That's how I feel about the "discovery" by many of the supposed Public Debt clause in the 14th amendment. Besides a few academics no one has paid it much heed. I have followed the debate with some interest and I will admit that perhaps an argument can be made that this language just applies to DEBT but not obligations. There is a difference. I also could entertain that President Obama, or any President, might have certain powers to make sure that the payments on the interest of the debt would be paid. For instance as an Executive he might have a degree of latitude in shutting down programs to transfer those funds.

However where people are going with this argument and it's boggling new grants of authority they have discovered is quite absurd. In fact it would give any President well almost KING like powers that he could use to just ignore the Legislative branch. The role of the Judicial branch and the problems as too all this are too long to list.

The respected Lawerence Tribe in the NYT seems to agree with much of this. Ann Althouse has the link and some fun commentary at

Laurence Tribe on the absurdly strained notion that the debt ceiling violates the 14th Amendment.

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