(ReliableNews.org) – President Joe Biden and Republicans are currently fighting over whether to raise the debt ceiling. This is the limit on how much money the Treasury Department is allowed to spend to pay the debt already approved by Congress. If Biden takes a particular route to ensure the country doesn’t default, the Supreme Court could decide whether it’s legal.
The speculation started when Biden said he was thinking about invoking the 14th Amendment to make sure the country’s bills were paid.
President Biden on #DebtCeiling: "I have been considering the 14th amendment." pic.twitter.com/ZsRZXAne07
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 9, 2023
The 14th Amendment is one of three passed after the Civil War. Collectively, they are known as the Reconstruction Amendments. The 14th granted equal protection to all people and citizenship to anyone born in the US. It also contained a section about federal debt.
Section 4 of the 14th Amendment states that the “validity” of the US’ public debt, which was approved by Congress, “shall not be questioned.” There’s an ongoing argument that this language means the debt ceiling is unconstitutional because it places a limit on the money that can be borrowed to pay for the debt that Congress authorized. In fact, the National Association of Government Employees filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of about 75,000 federal workers asking for a declaration that the debt limit is unconstitutional.
Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe told The Harvard Gazette that he doesn’t believe the president should file a lawsuit that forces the Supreme Court to take up the issue but thinks the justices might decide a case about it that was filed by military and civilian federal employees.
Tribe believes the 14th Amendment means the US will always pay its debts, “period.” He thinks the debt limit law contradicts what the Constitution says.
For now, the debt ceiling fight remains in the hands of Biden and Congress. The POTUS has admitted trying to use the 14th Amendment would likely lead to a long court battle.
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