Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Friday, January 11, 2019

It would be nice to think that America is protected from the worst excesses of Trump's impulses by its democratic laws and institutions. After all, Trump can do only so much without bumping up against the limits set by the Constitution and Congress and enforced by the courts. Those who see Trump as a threat to democracy comfort themselves with the belief that these limits will hold him in check. But will they? Unknown to most Americans, a parallel legal regime allows the president to sidestep many of the constraints that normally apply. The moment the president declares a "national emergency" -- a decision that is entirely within his discretion -- more than 100 special provisions become available to him. While many of these tee up reasonable responses to genuine emergencies, some appear dangerously suited to a leader bent on amassing or retaining power.

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For instance, the president can, with the flick of his pen, activate laws allowing him to shut down many kinds of electronic communications inside the United States or freeze Americans' bank accounts. Other powers are available even without a declaration of emergency, including laws that allow the president to deploy troops inside the country to subdue domestic unrest.

This edifice of extraordinary powers has historically rested on the assumption that the president will act in the country's best interest when using them. With a handful of noteworthy exceptions, this assumption has held up. But what if a president, backed into a corner and facing electoral defeat or impeachment, were to declare an emergency for the sake of holding on to power? In that scenario, our laws and institutions might not save us from a presidential power grab. They might be what takes us down.

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This is pretty wild, but these are the powers of the Presidency. He could do it if he wants.

#1 | Posted by BruceBanner at 2019-01-11 05:21 PM | Reply

"Some legal scholars believe that the Constitution gives the president inherent emergency powers by making him commander in chief of the armed forces, or by vesting in him a broad, undefined "executive Power." At key points in American history, presidents have cited inherent constitutional powers when taking drastic actions that were not authorized -- or, in some cases, were explicitly prohibited -- by Congress. Notorious examples include Franklin D. Roosevelt's internment of U.S. citizens and residents of Japanese descent during World War II and George W. Bush's programs of warrantless wiretapping and torture after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Abraham Lincoln conceded that his unilateral suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War was constitutionally questionable, but defended it as necessary to preserve the Union.

The Supreme Court has often upheld such actions or found ways to avoid reviewing them, at least while the crisis was in progress."

#2 | Posted by BruceBanner at 2019-01-11 05:22 PM | Reply

"the president has access to emergency powers contained in 123 statutory provisions, as recently calculated by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, where I work. These laws address a broad range of matters, from military composition to agricultural exports to public contracts. For the most part, the president is free to use any of them; the National Emergencies Act doesn't require that the powers invoked relate to the nature of the emergency. Even if the crisis at hand is, say, a nationwide crop blight, the president may activate the law that allows the secretary of transportation to requisition any privately owned vessel at sea. Many other laws permit the executive branch to take extraordinary action under specified conditions, such as war and domestic upheaval, regardless of whether a national emergency has been declared."

#3 | Posted by BruceBanner at 2019-01-11 05:24 PM | Reply

"the president may activate the law that allows the secretary of transportation to requisition any privately owned vessel at sea."

Donnie is like a spoiled little rich brat in a toy store, hell-bent on playing with every toy until he breaks it.

#4 | Posted by Danforth at 2019-01-11 05:27 PM | Reply

I bet he does it and the base loves it. In fact, I bet his popularity increases.

#5 | Posted by BruceBanner at 2019-01-11 07:25 PM | Reply

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