Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Constitution blogging early this week

This week I want to refer y'all to a terrific post by looseheadprop at Firedoglake. It discusses the Supreme Court decision in Youngstown v. Sawyer, 343, U.S. 579 (1952). This was a case in which the Supreme Court discussed the limits of presidential power. It is one of the most basic cases in Constitutional Law 101. In fact, even John Yoo has it prominently listed in the reading list of a class he teaches.

Lots of legal eagles were asking why Youngstown got no mention whatsoever in Yoo's infamous memo released last week. There was an obvious implied answer in the very raising of the question: acknowledging this precedent would shatter Yoo's arguments for virtually limitless presidential power.

I can think of few issues more important to the United States at this time. So I heartily recommend that any of you interested in checks and balances, or seeking solid ammunition for shooting down the bushwa about the "unitary executive," spend a few minutes to read and ponder looseheadprop's excellent post.

The occasion?
To avert a nation-wide strike of steel workers in April 1952, which he believed would jeopardize national defense, the President issued an Executive Order directing the Secretary of Commerce to seize and operate most of the steel mills. The Order was not based upon any specific statutory authority but was based generally upon all powers vested in the president by the Constitution and laws of the United States and as President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
The decision, in nuce:
The President's power, if any, to issue the order must stem either from an act of Congress or from the Constitution itself.
Do you see any current applicability in comments like this?
The President's order does not direct that a congressional policy be executed in a manner prescribed by Congress - it directs that a presidential policy be executed in a manner prescribed by the President.
Check it out.

This constitutes our weekly constitution blogging.
--the BB

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