A while back, I stumbled across a post which argued that Sec. 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment somehow renders the debt ceiling unconstitutional. Although I found the argument interesting, I wasn’t entirely convinced. However, since I have no life like reading about obscure constitutional law topics, I did make a note to research the issue further. Then I promptly got distracted by other stuff.
Fast-forward a couple of months (yes, I can stay distracted a _long_ time): Someone in the MSM notices this argument, and suddenly I’m seeing it all over the legal blogs I frequent. Now the idea seems pretty much dead, but for anyone who’s interested having trouble sleeping, here’s some links to posts which struck me as noteworthy:
- The Garrett Epps post that started it all. (Plus sequels: 2, 3, 4.)
- An interesting back-and-forth by Jack Balkin & Michael Stern regarding the original meaning of Sec. 4. Balkin I, Stern I, Balkin II, Stern II.
- A link to one of the few articles written on Sec. 4. (There’s another from 1933, but I don’t think anyone’s posted that one online….)
- A post by Michael McConnell, arguing that Sec. 4 actually prohibits the President from violating the debt ceiling.
- Mark Tushnet relates Sec. 4 to the Take Care Clause of Article II. \
- A thoughtful Jack Balkin post discussing when the President can violate the debt ceiling.
- An NYT Op-Ed by Lawrence Tribe denying that Sec. 4 allows the President to violate the debt ceiling.
- Michael McConnell declares the Sec. 4 argument dead, and credits Tribe with killing it.
And now for the humor: Here’s another Jack Balkin post, which outlines an apparently-legal way for the President to pay all the government’s bills for the rest of the year, even if Congress fails to raise taxes, cut spending, or increase the debt limit. This one had me laughing out loud.
More seriously, setting aside his pot-shots at Reagan & Bush II, Balkin does make an interesting point; and I’m wondering what (if anything) the legal blogosphere will make of it.
Update: Fixed final link to point to correct Balkin post.