Now the Supreme Court has moved the goalposts again. This year it decided, by a 5-4 margin, that the procedures Congress established (which the Court advocated for earlier) were inadequate and that the MCA was unconstitutional. Chief Justice John Roberts dissented. He wrote that the majority opinion was really about “control of federal policy regarding enemy combatants,” and that’s certainly correct. Here, the court is setting policy that should be -- and in fact had been -- set by Congress.
Finally, there’s the executive branch.
In 2002, President Bush signed the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform bill. Even as he did so, he noted, “I also have reservations about the constitutionality of the broad ban on issue advertising.” Yet, Bush added, “I expect that the courts will resolve these legitimate legal questions as appropriate under the law.”
But that’s the wrong approach. Upon inauguration, a president swears to uphold the Constitution. If he thinks a bill is unconstitutional, he is duty bound to veto it, not kick it down the road for the courts to rule on. And as it turned out, the courts allowed the questionable provisions to stand, so now they’ll be harder than ever to fix.
Members of all three branches of our government should do some light reading this summer, and refresh themselves on their proper roles. After all, you can’t uphold what you don’t understand.
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