With the date for government default quickly approaching, some Democratic lawmakers are trying a novel argument to circumvent congressional Republicans — that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional — The Huffington Post reports.
Democrats are looking to calm the markets’ nerves over the stalled deficit reduction and debt ceiling talks.
They are also signaling to Republicans that they have an 11th-hour solution to the debt limit crisis, in hopes of bringing them back to the negotiating table to reach a mutually amenable agreement.
“By declaring the debt ceiling unconstitutional, the White House could continue to meet its financial obligations, leaving Tea Party-backed Republicans in the difficult position of arguing against the plain wording of the Constitution,” HuffPo says.
The Democrats’ argument hinges on the 14th Amendment, which states: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorised by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”
Some legal scholars like Garrett Epps have argued that this provision is absolute — and that President Barack Obama is obligated to make good on the nation’s debts regardless of Congress’ inaction on the debt limit.
“I don’t think, as of a couple weeks ago, when this was first raised, it was seen as a pressing option,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) told The Huffington Post. “But I’ll tell you that it’s going to get a pretty strong second look as a way of saying, ‘Is there some way to save us from ourselves?'”
The move would undoubtedly face legal challenges, though it is unclear how successful plaintiffs would be at proving they have standing to challenge the President’s actions.
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