The Jennings blog has moved!
As of October 1, 2011 the Jennings Project blog has moved and joined forces with Constitution Daily, the Center’s daily digest of smart conversation on the Constitution. All new posts will be published there, so be sure to subscribe and follow Constitution Daily on Twitter. If you are interested in submitting a post to Constitution Daily, please email Stefan Frank at JenningsProject@constitutioncenter.org.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Last week, President Obama decided not to pursue the option of raising the debt ceiling without Congressional approval. That idea (see earlier post below) had been raised by proponents of a strict reading of the Fourteenth Amendment, which says, in part, that "the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, … shall not be questioned.” Like so much of the Constitution, the original history is instructive. As PJP Faculty Member Jeff Rosen points out today in The New Republic Daily, the phrase was written to counter the efforts of former Southern rebels who had been newly elected to Congress and had plans to overthrow the government by repudiating the Union debt and assuming the Confederate debt. Yet in 1935, the Supreme Court ruled that this language could be read to apply to any government obligation. So, let's say that Obama stopped waiting for Congress and simply raised the debt ceiling on his own. If he was then sued, and the issue went to the Supreme Court, says Rosen, the four so-called "liberal" justices -- Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer -- would go with Obama. The five conservatives, however, might not vote as a bloc. Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, if they remain true to their judicial philosophies, would have to weigh their judgement according to a well-defined history of defending a broad vision of executive power. Rosen sees them going for Obama, resulting in a 7-2 victory for the president. But he also concedes that the three conservatives justices might ignore their own philosophies meaning that the decision would end up following party lines against him, 5-4.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
This Democratic position created one of the more theatrical moments of the months-long debate when, at a Politico breakfast attended by dozens of reporters earlier in the summer, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner waved a copy of the Constitution and asked, rhetorically, of the president's Republican opponents: "Have you read the Fourteenth Amendment?" The statement surprised many in the audience since it was thought that any attempt to shut Congress out of the process would be politically disastrous, and, indeed, despite former President Bill Clinton chiming in to support the position, last Friday President Obama took it off the table. “I have talked to my lawyers,” said Obama, of the Fourteenth Amendment reasoning. “They are not persuaded that that is a winning argument.”
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Out of the 77,000 National Rifle Association (NRA) certified firearms trainers only 1,700 are women...
You can hear her profile of Emslie here.
Friday, July 22, 2011
2011 PJP Fellow Andrew Hedlund asks: Does the mere imposition of a debt ceiling violate the 14th Amendment?
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Senator Tom Coburn, Oklahoma (R), speaking back in April on the debate over raising the debt limit. Ever since, Coburn has been chastised by editorial writers back in his home state who point to his signature on the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," the work of a conservative activist organization (Americans for Tax Reform). The Pledge commits signers to opposing "any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.” It has been joined by 236 Congressmen (all but two of them Republicans) and 41 senators (all, except Sen. Ben Nelson of Colorado, Republican).
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
When, in 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that intimate, consensual sexual activities were protected by the the due process clause of the 14th amendment, invalidating a Texas law prohibiting sodomy, Justice Antonin Scalia, in dissent, wrote that if legislatures were now to be banned from enacting laws that made moral choices, then why stop with sodomy? Shouldn't the Court also invalidate laws against bigamy, adult incest, prostitution, bestiality?
Well, here we go. In a case made for the 21st century, reality TV star Kody Brown and his four wives, Janelle, Christine, Meri, and Robyn, are challenging the state of Utah's ban on polygamy by arguing that, much like Texas's now invalid law against sodomy, the Utah law prosecutes them for their intimate, consensual relations. Brown, who appears with his four partners in the TLC reality program "Sister Wives," is being represented by Jonathan Turley, a professor at the Georgetown Law Center. In his complaint, Turley actually makes seven claims for relief: due process, equal protection, free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and the ban on the establishment of state religion (the family claims polygamy as a religious practice). The Browns' appearance on TLC led Utah authorities to begin a criminal investigation. The "plural family," as they prefer to be known, has since fled to nearby Nevada.
Turley insists that the suit is in the spirit of the great justice Louis Brandeis who argued that one of the defining principles of America is "the right to be left alone." You can read the complaint on Turley's blog and search through dozens of posts on other laws he argues should be invalidated by the Court's ruling in Lawrence.
Friday, July 1, 2011
Two of the prominent Republican candidates for president are Mormons: former Utah governor John Huntsman and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Should their religion give voters pause? Despite the Constitution's ban on a "religious test" for office, many remain concerned. Here Jeff Greenfield discusses why.