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Argument: Debt unquestionable under 14th; Obama can raise ceiling

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Revision as of 17:52, 31 July 2011

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In 1935, the Supreme Court held that despite the Civil War context, the amendment clearly referred to all federal debt, providing a justification for Obama acting to uphold US public debt obligations in 2011: "While [the 14th Amendment] was undoubtedly inspired by the desire to put beyond question the obligations of the government issued during the Civil War, its language indicates a broader connotation. We regard it as confirmatory of a fundamental principle which applies as well to the government bonds in question, and to others duly authorized by the Congress as to those issued before the amendment was adopted. Nor can we perceive any reason for not considering the expression 'the validity of the public debt' as embracing whatever concerns the integrity of the public obligations."[1]

The 14th Amendment says that the validity of the U.S. public debt shall not be questioned. This means that Congress is violating the 14th Amendment if it voluntarily defaults on US loans. The President, therefore, pursuant to Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, has the authority to act to override Congressional violations of the Constitution and raise the debt limit.[2]

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