Water Cooler- If The President Uses the 14th Amendement, Who Would Have Standing To Sue

The Supreme Court 2011
The Supreme Court 2011 by DonkeyHotey, on Flickr

What happens if the President does the right thing and invokes the 14th Amendment? Well, Rush Limbaugh’s head explodes and douses half of Florida with fat, but that is not what I am talking about.

One of the reasons that has been given for not at least touting this maneuver as a negotiating tactic is that the President’s legal team is telling him that it is not legal. But here is the thing, there has not been much testing of this idea that he can controvert the debt ceiling legislation by Constitutional grounds.

Contrary to what Ed Schultz keep blathering on what President Truman did has nothing to do with whether or not it is legal. Truman acted under the color of the 14th Amendment but got slapped down hard in the Youngstown v Sawyer.

That something like this would happen now if President Obama invoked the 14th Amendment the Supreme Court would just overturn it, and we would be right back in the default barrel. But would that really happen?

You see in Youngstown there was a clear group who had standing to sue the president. Namely the owners of the steel mills he had seized, based on the idea that we need to price and wage controls as we entered the Korean War. They were very clearly being harmed as they had no say in either the prices they could sell their goods nor the wages they had to pay their employees.

It seems likely that there is no one who would have standing (meaning that they were being harmed) if the President did invoke the constitutional option. Mathew Zeitlin has a full run down over at The New Republic (I know, they are not exactly what you’d call reliably liberal, but I do peek in there once in a while).

He points out that the because of various recent Supreme Court decisions, tax payers, individual Senators and Representatives and even bond holders have no actual way to prove injury and thus standing. There is a chance that both Houses of Congress could pass a resolution claiming that their power was usurped, which would give them a place to start, but it is unlikely that that would happen. In the House yes, but probably not in the Senate.

With all due respect the Presidents legal team, we don’t really know what is and is not constitutional until the High Court tells us so. But it seems likely that it would not be heard in this very conservative Supreme Court. To do so would mean they would be overturning the recent precedents that they themselves had set on standing.

In general what is good for the goose is good for the gander. It would as shocking as the insane behavior of the Republican Party recently for the Roberts Court to do this. It would call into clear question their impartiality and add yet another Constitutional crisis to the mix.

Which is not to say that I put anything beyond the conservative Justices. They might decide to pull a Justice Thomas and just bald face the whole thing out. At that point, I can’t possibly tell you what will happen, since the wheels will really have come off our Republic.

Still on the issue of “it is not Constitutional” we don’t know, because no one has tested it. Given the current state of the standing laws and the damage that this moronic and manufactured crisis are causing, it is just one more reason why the President should grow a spine and do what is best for the United States. Which is to scrape all these BS deficit reduction plan created in an artificial crisis and just raise the damned debt ceiling on his own hook.

What is on your minds tonight Firedogs? The floor is yours.

Comments are closed.