Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Let's rely on a "14th Amendment" doctrine that I just made up.

The federal government is expected to hit the debt ceiling later this month. People are calling on the President to exercise his supposed power under the 14th Amendment to address the debt ceiling, a power that he supposedly has because the validity of federal debt "shall not be questioned." Not so fast.

The 14th Amendment, § 4, first sentence, actually reads,

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
Note those pesky words "authorized by law," which keep getting left out. If I didn't know any better, I'd almost think that people avoid quoting those words because those words get in the way of the desired result. Who makes laws again? The next section of the amendment gives a clue:
The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

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