President Jackson is quoted as saying, after learning of his rebuke by the U.S. Supreme Court in Worcester v. Georgia, “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it.” That was “King Andy,” though and through, whether he actually said it or not. Jackson’s contempt for the ruling, which supported Native American sovereignty, contributed to its violation by other courts and Georgia laid the groundwork for the unlawful removal of Cherokees from the state in what became know as “The Trial of Tears.” Jackson did some important things as President, and has a strong argument as a great one, but his willingness to violate the Constitution when it suited his convictions is hard to justify, even when his desired end seemed to be worth his illegal means. Jackson (a Democrat) was Donald Trump’s favorite President, but it is Joe Biden who is openly channeling him now. The difference is that few Democrats, mainstream media journalists and pundits are screaming that Joe is a threat to Democracy. Yet what he is doing really is such a threat.
This spring, a court struck down the nationwide eviction moratorium adopted by the Trump administration last September at the height of the pandemic lockdown, ruling that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had no statutory authority to extend it. The case was appealed, and five justices of the Supreme Court signaled that they agreed with the lower court as they simultaneously voted to allow the eviction freeze to stand because it was set to expire just a few weeks later, on July 31, anyway. Any fair reading of the opinions make it clear that the SCOTUS majority holds that the eviction freeze cannot continue beyond that date without an act of Congress.
Never mind! President Biden announced his support for extending the eviction moratorium, unconstitutional or not. It was later preserved by a divided Supreme Court despite the view of a majority that it was unconstitutional. Though he acknowledged that his administration’s legal experts overwhelmingly told him that any extension would violate the Constitution, he said it was worth extending the moratorium because it would take time for a court to intervene, giving his administration time to “get $45 billion dollars out to people who are in fact behind on the rent and don’t have the money”despite the lack of constitutional authority to do so. In other words, they would have time to break the law before they had to stop.
Nice. President Biden took the Oath of office when he was sworn in:
“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
The oath does not include an exception for unconstitutional acts that many members of the public or leceted officials might be “for the greater good.” The Constitution doesn’t work that way, much as progressive who want to gut the Supreme Court and the rule of law wish it would. Deliberately violating the Constitution, the law of the land, is a high crime and misdemeanor worthy of impeachment, unlike the imaginary offenses that Democrats impeached Donald Trump for twice.
What’s going on here? Oh, just the usual: the Democratic President doing exactly what he and his party accused the Republican President of doing while claiming that he was a threat to democracy. The embrace of a convenient double standard and the emulation or totalitarian regimes. Professor Turley pronounces himself “astonished” at Biden’s direct defiance of SCOTUS, yet almost in the same metaphorical breath, he writes, “Biden came to office declaring a return to the “rule of law” but has actually racked up an impressive array of court losses. Now he is treating a presumptively unconstitutional act as a purely tactical consideration to allow the spending of federal funds.”
Correctly, Turley flags this as another IIPTDXTTNMIAFB in Ethics Alarms terms, or “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden.” He writes, “Imagine if a Republican president announced that he was told that an order on drilling or subsidizing a religious organization was unconstitutional but would use litigation to get the money out before a court could intervene. The hue and cry in the media and from law schools would be deafening.”
Indeed it would. A far less reserved legal commentator, the often brilliant and acid-penned Scott Greenfield, does not mince words nor hide his disgust:
In the face of an expired moratorium, a recessed Congress, Rep. Cori Bush embarrassing the administration by sleeping on the Capital steps and a formerly-respected Harvard law professor who spent the past four years disgracing himself with absurd legalish claims, but who now manufactured a nonsensical theory to distinguish a new moratorium from the clearly illegal one worthy of Rudy Giuliani’s and the Krakens, Biden and the White House shut their eyes tight and dove off the ledge. President Biden knew it. He knew it was a crackpot scheme backed by extremely motivated believers desperately seeking an excuse to rationalize why
torture of enemy combatants an eviction moratorium was constitutional. He knew it but he just didn’t care. The position appears to be that, even though he knows it’s unlawful, this is the outcome he wants and he will do it for as long as he can get away with it. Others who similarly want this outcome tout the rationalizations used to justify it. But the permutations of an executive branch unconstrained by law or Constitution should be obvious. After four years of a president whose every move, lawful or flagrantly unlawful as happened regularly, was ripped to shreds, his replacement is demonstrating that he’s no less inclined to break the law to accomplish the outcomes he prefers, or at least the outcomes he feels he must achieve to avoid being burned at the stake by his own party. And the same people who screamed constantly about how awful Trump was are now apologists for Biden. It’s not that they were against a lawless dictator. It’s that they want the dictator to be their dictator.
Bravo. Both Turley and Greenfield are Democrats and members of a profession, the law (and in Turley’s case, academia as well, that has abandoned integrity for blind partisanship. They, and a handful of others, prove that there are exceptions, and all citizens should cherish them.