Constitution

Hayek on Emergency Powers of Government

Featured image People are rightly wondering about the legal and constitutional authority to impose strict lockdowns on both the population and the economy, and more broadly wondering whether, like “emergencies” in the past, our current response will lead to a permanent expansion certain kinds of government power (and spending!), and thus yet another ratchet to larger government and a further diminution of individual liberty. Many “temporary” measures and policies seem to have »

House lacks standing to enforce McGahn subpoena, appeals court rules [UPDATED]

Featured image As Scott noted this post, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled yesterday that that Article III of the Constitution forbids federal courts from resolving the dispute between the House of Representatives and the executive branch over whether former White House Counsel Don McGahn must comply with a subpoena to testify before the House. The decision is, of course, a victory for President Trump. It means »

Liberals Versus the Constitution

Featured image It was jarring to the ears to hear Democrats piously invoking the words and “original intent” of the Founders during the impeachment farce, because as everyone knows liberals would re-write the Constitution wholesale if they had the power to do so. The list of things they despise in our Constitution is quite long, i.e. get rid of the electoral college, abolish the Senate, etc. I’ve seen lists with as many »

George Anastaplo on Impeachment and Statesmanship

Featured image I was rummaging around in my library yesterday looking for a particular essay on Plato by the late George Anastaplo of Loyola University and Rosary College in Illinois, and by accident I happened upon a lecture he gave in February 1974—note carefully the date—entitled “Impeachment and Statesmanship.” (The essay appears in his collection Human Being and Citizen: Essays on Virtue, Freedom, and the Common Good.) Needless to say I had »

The Power Line Show, Ep. 164: Special Impeachment Edition!

Featured image This special edition of the Power Line Show offers a panel discussion on impeachment that I hosted and moderated yesterday before a packed house at Berkeley Law School. Its purpose was not to rehash or thrash out the specific issues of the Trump impeachment as much as to illuminate what the founders had in mind when they wrote impeachment into the Constitution, and what we have learned from the two »

Supreme Court to Rule on Faithless Electors

Featured image The U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari in two cases that could have important impact on the functioning of the Electoral College. The issue presented in both cases, one from Colorado and one from Washington, is whether a state can, by law, require its electors to vote according to their pledges or the state’s majority vote. The issue, previously obscure, came into focus in 2016 when ten electors refused to »

The Power Line Show, Ep. 162: Stephen Knott on “The Lost Soul of the American Presidency”

Featured image This week’s guest is Stephen F. Knott of the Naval War College, discussing his terrific new book, The Lost Soul of the American Presidency: The Decline into Demagoguery and the Prospects for Renewal, just out from University Press of Kansas. Knott, one of the nation’s pre-eminent scholars of Alexander Hamilton, thinks the American presidency has slipped from the modest republican design of the Founders almost from the very beginning, starting with »

House passes meaningless, unwise resolution on use of force against Iran

Featured image Yesterday, the House passed a resolution designed to prevent President Trump from taking additional military action against Iran without specific congressional authorization. The resolution calls on the president “to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran” unless Congress declares war or enacts “specific statutory authorization” for the use of armed forces. Three Republicans and an independent voted for the resolution. Eight »

Getting impeachment wrong

Featured image I’m a big fan of Yuval Levin, but I disagree with some of what writes in this post on “the Senate’s burden” regarding impeachment. Yuval quotes with approval this passage from Greg Weiner: Impeachment is a matter of prudence whose frame of reference should be civic health, not merely presidential conduct… It is not merely whether Trump is guilty but also whether the nation will be better off—now and in »

Trump: The Constitution made me do it

Featured image President Trump has defended his calls for Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens in constitutional terms. He said: This is not about politics. This is about corruption. If you look and you read our Constitution and many other things, I have an obligation to look at corruption. I have an actual obligation and a duty. As I read the Constitution, it does not obligate a president to investigate a »

The Power Line Show, Ep. 147: A Few Minutes with Hadley Arkes

Featured image I am overseas at the moment and limited to Internet by smoke signals (another failure of globalization!), but as they say in Hollywood, the show must go on, and that includes the Power Line Show. (And in case you’re wondering, not to worry: The Week in Pictures is already buttoned up and scheduled for appearance at the regular time tomorrow.) Last week I caught up with Hadley Arkes, Edward N. »

The Power Line Podcast, Special July 4 Edition: Five Things to Know about the Declaration, with “Lucretia”

Featured image By popular demand from listeners, we’re bringing back “Lucretia,” Power Line’s International Woman of Mystery, on this special edition for the July 4 holiday. Many listeners asked us to offer up mini-tutorials on various aspects of the American Founding and political thought in general, so we break down the Declaration of Independence, drawing notice to five key features—including how some of the specific indictments against King George III remain highly »

A Blow For Religious Freedom?

Featured image Today the U.S. Supreme Court decided American Legion et al. v. American Humanist Assn. et al., a case arising out of an effort by an atheist group to force the destruction of a monument to local residents killed in World War I. The monument, erected in 1918 in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on land that is now public, included the shape of a Latin cross. Therefore, the Humanist Association argued, »

The Left’s Most Serious Attack on Federalism [Updated]

Featured image Much of the Left’s current wish list–the Green New Deal, reparations–is fantasy. Those proposals are purely for political effect, and aren’t going anywhere. But there is an important exception: there is a serious risk that the Left will succeed in effectively abolishing the Electoral College. That will never be done via constitutional amendment, of course. The small states, a majority, won’t vote for it. But liberals are promoting an Agreement »

Political Emergencies, Past, Present, and Future

Featured image It has been interesting to watch liberals and Democrats respond to President Trump invoking the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to build his wall, now that he found out where President Obama hid his famous pen and phone. Instead of reflecting on—and then correcting—an overbroad and improvident congressional grant of power to the president, they are saying, “Just wait till we get back in power! Our gal [bet on a »

The Power Line Show, Ep. 107: Is “New Originalism” an Oxymoron?

Featured image Constitutional originalism is the cornerstone of conservative jurisprudence today, but there are several rival versions of originalism, and sometimes you even hear about the “new” originalism, which sounds more like an old Spinal Tap joke. This week I caught up briefly (very briefly—we both had airplanes to catch) with John Eastman, the Salvatori Professor of Law at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law and senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, »

Pelosi: The Constitution considers me equal to the president

Featured image The New York Times reports that when Nancy Pelosi was asked whether she considers herself President Trump’s equal, she replied, “The Constitution does.” It’s difficult to say which is more staggering, the ignorance or the arrogance of that boast. The legislative branch is co-equal with the executive branch. But the president heads the executive branch. The House Speaker does not head the legislative branch. At least now we can better »