Last-Ditch 14th Amendment Plan Gains Momentum As Debt Clock Ticks - The Note
As fears intensify that Congress will not pass a debt limit increase in time to avoid default, some Democrats are pulling out their pocket Constitutions to find a back-up plan.
Assistant Minority Leader Rep. James Clyburn, R-S.C., said today that if a long-term deal is not struck by Aug. 2, President Obama should sign an executive order raising the debt ceiling without Congressional approval. He said this action would be justified because of a section in the 14th Amendment that states that “the validity of the public debt ... shall not be questioned.”
"I am convinced that whatever discussions about the legality of that can continue," Clyburn said. "But I believe that something like this will bring calm to the American people, and will bring needed stability to our financial markets."
The argument is that a default would put the “validity of the public debt” in jeopardy, thus violating the 14th Amendment. And since the president took a vow to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” it would then be his responsibility to ensure that the country does not default.
But constitutional scholars are divided over whether the amendment would, in fact, justify the president to unilaterally take action on the debt ceiling.
Laurence Tribe, a constitutional scholar at Harvard University and one of President Obama’s former professors, told ABC News earlier this month that the 14th Amendment must be upheld by Congress, not by the president.