As Ryan Grim noted in his article this week, despite some House Republicans threatening impeachment if President Obama resorted to this to keep the United States from defaulting on its debt, but at least one Republican member of the Senate thinks the Constitution would trump the law -- 14th Amendment Option May Be Legit, Says Leading Senate Republican :
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said on Thursday that the Constitution may trump the debt ceiling, allowing the administration a way out of the default impasse.
Negotiators are considering gutting the social safety net in exchange for a vote to lift the debt ceiling. Grassley, in a conference call with local reporters, said that there may be another way out.
"There's one thing that hasn't been talked about yet, and I haven't checked on the constitutionality of it -- and I read the Constitution, but I don't remember reading this -- but in the 14th amendment, there's something that says something about the debt of the United States government shall be honored," Grassley said, according to a recording of the call. "The 14th Amendment includes a public debt clause that insists the obligations of the government 'shall not be questioned.'"
"So people are looking at the fact that maybe the debt ceiling bill that Congress presumably has to pass for the government to borrow more maybe is contrary to that constitutional provision, and that the administration may take out [loans] on their own -- just to borrow money -- and say that they can ignore the law," he said.
Grassley said that he was personally supportive of the debt ceiling, because it focuses attention on spending, but that if its existence was unconstitutional, there was nothing he or his colleagues could do. "I think it's a discipline that Congress uses effectively from time to time, maybe not to cut down on the amount of spending but to have a refresher course," he said. "It's a good discipline, so it bothers me if the Constitution provision would trump it, but that would be up to the courts to say. But who's going to argue against the Constitution? It's the basis of our government; it's the law of our land, and everybody has to abide by it."
"The Constitution trumps the law, obviously," he said. Read on...