Obama – Our Unitary Executive?
Posted on July 28, 2011 by Lou
Remember all the talk during the Bush years about presidential power and the famous torture memo by justice department official (now U.C. Berkeley law scholar) John Yoo.
Yoo is a proponent of unitary executive theory which gives the american president enormous discretion during times of national emergency. For example: allegedly enabling George Bush to authorize enhanced interrogation of terrorist suspects.
Now some liberals are toying with a related idea of expansive presidential power, urging Barack Obama to use the 14th amendment to override congressional authority on the debt ceiling.
While unilateral action by Obama in the current “crisis” would certainly differ from the exercise of war powers (and torture!), there may be some overlap in its justification, particularly if the move prompts judicial review.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if the current supreme court were to find that this president acted constitutionally in usurping congress? And even more ironic if the court’s conservatives (Samuel Alito was grilled on unitary executive theory during his 2006 confirmation) provide the margin.