Dershowitz Versus Cruz (and J. Madison)

While we wait for the dust to settle to get a clear view of the damage from the budget and debt deal currently hanging fire in Washington, I thought it worth taking note of Alan Dershowitz on CNN last night, who, while praising Ted Cruz as one of the best and brightest students he ever had at Harvard Law School nonetheless goes on to make a terrible argument that Cruz’s attempt to block Obamacare through the budget process is “unconstitutional.”  Dershowitz would need a pretty good criminal lawyer to get him off the charge of legal malpractice with this statement.

Here’s Dershowitz’s full rant:

Could you imagine Hamilton and Madison sitting around and drafting the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. They’re talking about how the government has to pay its debts, how it has to secure the credit of the United States, how the House of Representatives is to originate bills on revenue.

Nobody in a million years would have contemplated the power of Congress to shut down the government, to create doubts about our creditworthiness. I think you can make a very strong argument that what Ted Cruz is doing is deeply unconstitutional.

Well, as a matter of fact, when Madison got round to “drafting” Federalist #58, he had rather a different view than Deshowitz, as mentioned here previously but worth mentioning again:

The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies requisite for the support of government. They, in a word, hold the purse that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British Constitution, an infant and humble representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.

So there.  In typical weaselly fashion, Dershowitz throws in:

Whether a court would accept that or say it’s a political question is another issue. . .

Translation: I know I’m all wet here, but I love the sound of my own voice when I say “unconstitutional.”


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