Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Constitution Never Allows the President to Be Lawbreaker in Chief

I suspect he is the proverbial voice crying in the wilderness, but in an op-ed piece in the New York Times Jed Rubenfeld, professor of constitutional law at Yale Law School, says Attorney General Designate Michael Mukasey is going against at least three Supreme Court rulings -- and even the previous position of the Justice Department -- when he claims that the president can disobey a valid federal law to defend the country.

Contrary to Mukasey's testimony during his confirmation hearings, Rubenfeld writes: "Under the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, not execuative decisions in the name of national security, are 'the supreme law of the land.' It's that simple. So long as a statute is constitutional, it is binding on everyone, including the president.

"The president has no supreme, exclusive or trumping authority to 'defend the nation.' In fact, the Constitution uses the words 'provide for the common defense' in its list of the powers of Congress, not those of the president."

Rubenfeld says that Mukasey should not be confirmed unless he retracts his statement and says plainly that a federal statute is supreme when the president and the Congress, both acting within their constitutional powers, clash.

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