Lawrence O’Donnell invited constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe to his show last night to explain how he changed his thinking on Biden using the 14th Amendment as the authority to pay the nation’s debt.
“What I changed my mind about is what is the right question to ask,” Tribe said.
“I used to think the right question was whether the president had special authority to borrow without congressional authority. The answer was no.
“Does he have the power to impose taxes without the authorization of Congress? The answer is no.
“Does he have the power of a one-person Supreme Court that could strike down an act of Congress? The answer is no.
“But the real question is not what the powers of the president are. It is what the duties of the president are. Does the president have a duty to carry out all the laws of the United States, the ones that Congress has passed, telling it to spend It has that duty.
“The question then becomes, does Congress have the power to override this duty by confronting the President with an impossible choice by saying to the President, look, we told you to spend this money, you took an oath to respect the Constitution, to enforce all the laws, but we won’t let you do that.
“Because we’re holding you over a barrel, we’re not going to raise the cap which is of no use unless you stiffen up some of the people the United States owes money to. Maybe be veterans, maybe hospitals, maybe pension funds and bondholders.
“Well, the president doesn’t really have the power to stiffen these people because of the 14th Amendment. He automatically says, ‘The lawfully incurred public debt of the United States will not be in question.
So, he said, the president must not pay attention to this impossible thing that Congress has asked him to do, follow his oath and force all laws. He compared it to Abraham Lincoln’s choice to override the law creating the habeau corpus, instead of letting the Union army be decimated.
“I don’t think so, you have to be very careful to ask the right question, which is how I changed my position. I don’t think the president is a one-man Supreme Court.
“But he must carry out the laws passed by Congress.”
He explained, basically, that the president has no veto power and must pay all the bills. He cannot choose.
“Congress needs to prioritize. You can’t put that on the president.”
Incidentally, Rep. Jamie Raskin, another constitutional scholar, agrees. He said Sunday that Biden could invoke the 14th Amendment. Via Common Dreams:
When asked if the president could and should use this part of the amendment to fight Republican efforts to hijack the global economy, Raskin (D-Md.) told MSNBC’s Jen Pskai, Biden’s former press secretary, that “I think he has that authority in these circumstances, absolutely, because Congress has put him in a constitutionally untenable position.”
“If he decides to default for the country, he’s violating the Constitution, because the 14th Amendment says you can’t do that,” Raskin said of Biden, pointing to a New York Times opinion piece from the Professor Emeritus Laurence of Harvard University. Tribe.
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