President Trump And Secretary Mnuchin Join In The Fun Of “Let’s Pretend The Constitution Doesn’t Count!” Month

The most pathetic episode in the recent fad of pretending the Constitution is a gossamer wisp that can be altered by a prayer was probably 97-year-old retired SCOTUS justice John Paul Stevens  writing an op-ed re-litigating his minority dissent in District of Columbia v. Heller. That case held that the Second Amendment was an individual right (you know, like all the others in the Bill of Rights). In the process of making a wish for some future Leftist genie to grant, presumably along with banning “hate speech”  and the Republican Party (you get three wishes, remember) Stevens misrepresented the previous 1939 Supreme Court Second Amendment ruling, and appeared not to remember, or just be willing to leave his readers uninformed, that repealing the Second Amendment wouldn’t change any gun laws by itself.

It was kind of sad to watch anti-gun zealots on social media jump up and down with glee as old John Paul engaged in his nostalgia-fest. I had to wonder if the Times would have been similarly eager to publish a similar op-ed from one of the dissenters in Roe v. Wade or Obergefell v. Hodges. Okay, no I didn’t. I understand and am used to the double standard: conservatives are expected to accept the Supreme Court’s rulings as the law of the land when it goes against their beliefs, but rulings that offend liberal agendas are to be considered temporary. Thus I look forward to Justice Ginsberg’s upcoming op-ed on why the 2000 Florida recount should be started up again, and to my left-leaning Facebook friends sharing it with the breathless exhortation, “Read this!”

Insisting that the Constitution doesn’t say what the Court has ruled it says is oodles of fun, so we also had the nauseating spectacle of President Trump and his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin lobbying for  that failed nostrum from the Clinton years, the line-item veto. When Trump signed the $1.3 trillion spending package on March 23, thus moving the United States one step closer to fiscal calamity, he said that it was the last time he would approve such bloated spending, “Trust me, I’ll never do it again” being such a reliable promise in the world of politics.

The President said, 

“To prevent the omnibus situation from ever happening again, I’m calling on Congress to give me a line-item veto for all government spending bills.”

Okay, I don’t expect the current President to be up to speed on Constitutional law, but somebody in the administration has to know that this horse has not only left the barn, it’s run in the Triple Crown, been put out to stud, and ended up in a can of Alpo. Yet here is the Secretary of the Treasury on Fox News Sunday:

Mnuchin: I think they should give the president a line-item veto.

Chris Wallace: But that’s been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, sir.

Mnuchin: Well, again, Congress could pass a rule, okay, that allows them to do it.

Wallace: No, no, sir, it would be a constitutional amendment.

Mnuchin: Chris, we don’t — we don’t need to get into a debate in terms of — there’s different ways of doing this.

That’s right, we don’t, and no, there are not different ways of doing it. The issue was settled in 1998 when the Supreme Court ruled  6 to 3 to strike down the Line Item Veto Act, signed by President Bill Clinton, in  Clinton v. City of New York.

 

The majority opinion said,

“The Constitution explicitly requires that each of those three steps be taken before a bill may ‘become a law’…If the Line Item Veto Act were valid, it would authorize the President to create a different law — one whose text was not voted on by either house of Congress or presented to the president for signature….If there is to be a new procedure in which the president will play a different role in determining the final text of what may ‘become a law,’ such change must come not by legislation but through the amendment procedures set forth in Article V of the Constitution.”

Guess who wrote that?

Why, Justice John Paul Stevens!

__________________________

Source: Washington Post

17 Comments

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17 responses to “President Trump And Secretary Mnuchin Join In The Fun Of “Let’s Pretend The Constitution Doesn’t Count!” Month

  1. adimagejim

    It’s all in which political ideology’s ox is being gored. Sad.

    If you want to repeal the Second Amendment, then do it and good luck with your confiscation plans.

    If you want fiscal control restored, either stop electing drunken sailoresque representatives and senators or pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

    Here’s an idea…how about just demanding these fools behave like adults and acknowledge the legal and financial limits we face.

  2. DaveL

    Stevens’s editorial opines:

    For over 200 years after the adoption of the Second Amendment, it was uniformly understood as not placing any limit on either federal or state authority to enact gun control legislation.

    Pray then, what exactly was it understood to do? It doesn’t mention anything about any new powers. It doesn’t mention anything about creating new obligations. If it doesn’t put any restrictions whatsoever on how any level of government can regulate guns, what else is there?

    In fact, that’s a question that seems to be lacking an answer in the whole editorial. There’s lots in there about how “limited” the amendment was believed to be, what it was not understood to do, but damned if I can find any explanation of what, exactly, it was understood to do.

    • Good catch: yes, that was one of many bootstrapping highlights. It wasn’t uniformly “understood” at all, which is why both pro- and anti- gun forces spent a century meticulously refusing to force the issue and make SCOTUS decide. Heck, I remember debating the “militia” vs “individual rights” issue in high school.

      • DaveL

        But even if we accept the “right to own arms in a militia” argument, my state defines the militia as all citizens between the ages of 16 and 60. Were they arguing that those people could not be prevented, under the 2nd Amendment, from owning weapons of war? Stevens’s commentary strongly suggests not.

        • John Billingsley

          Thanks DaveL. You prompted me to look up how the state of Florida defines militia. According to Florida statutes: “The militia consists of all able-bodied citizens of this state and all other able-bodied persons who have declared their intention to become citizens.”

          • Pennagain

            “The militia consists of all able-bodied citizens of this state and all other able-bodied persons who have declared their intention to become citizens.”

            So, does this mean that an illegal immigrant in Florida would, potentially, have the right to bear arms? Now, that could present a conundrum to the anti-gun brigade.

        • Where the 1st Amendment says “Congress shall make no law…” was originally interpreted that individual States indeed could infringe on freedom of speech/religion/association.

          The 2nd Amendment has an open ended (and therefore applicable to all levels of federal government (Nation & State): “…shall not be infringed”.

          But I forget off the top of my head which later Amendment (it was one of the Civil War Amendments) that generalized the bill of rights to States as well, making the 1st Amendment a universal limitation on government, not just a limitation on the national level of government).

  3. For over 200 years after the adoption of the Second Amendment, it was uniformly understood as not placing any limit on either federal or state authority to enact gun control legislation.

    for nearly half that time, the Fourteenth Amendment was uniformly understood as not placing any limit on the states to racially segregate public schools.

  4. Steve-O-in-NJ

    “I understand and am used to the double standard: conservatives are expected to accept the Supreme Court’s rulings as the law of the land when it goes against their beliefs, but rulings that offend liberal agendas are to be considered temporary.”

    It goes further than that – conservatives are expected to accept EVERY decision or change that goes against their beliefs, but any decision that turns back a liberal demand is to be considered temporary, whether it be over a holiday, a civic ritual, who can and can’t participate in an event, or a truly important policy question like abortion or capital punishment. Part of it is that most conservatives put jobs, businesses and families first, while many liberals take a very activist approach that puts pet causes first. However, I think a very big part of it is that liberals, deep down, have a mentality that they are always right, and, since, per Martin Luther King, the arc of history is long, but bends toward justice, it can’t bend any other way than towards their cause. Likewise, since they are always right, they won’t take a loss with grace, since any loss to them is a setback for peace, justice, human rights, and love (although love always wins).

    Liberals are just the secular equivalent of Muslims who believe God (or history) is on their side always, and hard-core liberals are just secular jihadists.

    • JutGory

      There is no double standard; they are on the right side of history and you are not. Their losses must be temporary because the arc of history bends toward what they want. Your losses are permanent for the exact same reason.
      -Jut

  5. Fred Davison

    If the whole “militia” thing was what they meant, why aren’t there all kinds of historical examples of the founding fathers, with great ceremony and flourish, promptly depositing their weapons of war into the local armory the day after the Bill of Rights was created? Have gun nut historians been lying to us for hundreds of years and keeping this secret?

  6. Is there a cliff notes version of the opinions when the Line Item Veto was struck down?

      • Thanks.

        I suppose my layman’s take on the Line Item Veto is that a single Bill must be taken as a WHOLE, and if components of the Bill are unconstitutional, the President must veto the whole.

        Most Bills are passed with some level of bipartisan support, which generally means there will be a few items have support of one side of the aisle and a few items that have support of the other side of the aisle, both sides willing to accept the other’s proposal as a “compromise”.

        A President could then merely veto the items supported by whichever party is not his while signing into law the items supported by his party.

        If *I* were President and a bill came before me longer than 4 pages, it would be vetoed just on principle of being too legally convoluted for most people to understand.

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