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View Diary: Why The Debt Limit Fight Will Be A Political Face-Off With No Gimmicks Or Constitutional Crisis (208 comments)

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  •  Law is a narrow business (10+ / 0-)

    Before determining that two laws conflict, such that one must give way, Courts (and the President's counsel) will read the two laws to see if they can be reconciled.  Gary's reading of the appropriations language is kind of a slam dunk easy reading that allows both the appropriations law and the debt ceiling to operate.  That is, if the appropriations does not command the president to spend moneys not in the treasury, but only commands expenditure of money in the treasury, both statutes are saved and neither need be struck down.

    In a certain sense, the "just following orders" is exactly what the rule of law entails.  Once Congress enacts the law, then within the rule of law, the authorities are bound to follow it.  In otherwords, police, judges, citizens, and the president can't just ignore the law because they feel like it.  (which is where signing statements are so questionable).  

    And finally yes, many bad, bad consequences would follow from Congress enacting such a stupid policy.  however, that's the decision of the Congress to make taht call, not the President or the Courts.  Why?  Because Congress are the duly elected representatives of the people with the duty to make such decisions.  If the American people saw fit to elect scoundrels who would wreck the US economy, then that is a decision of the American people, not the president or the courts.

    All the language you cite says is that the loophole from reading the statutes as conflicting won't work as a matter of law.  It's a bit like finding a provision of the platinum coin law limiting denominations to $50.  If that language were in that law, that option wouldn't work either.  (I say this as someone who was a big fan of the approach Gary shoots down here).

    Yes, it's narrow.  Yes, it fails to solve the problem.  However, law must operate narrowly to implement the will of congress or that will of congress would be too easily thwarted.

    hope this helps make sense of what law can and can't do here.

    Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

    by Mindful Nature on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 02:06:14 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

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