Constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley over the weekend silenced Democrats urging President Joe Biden to use the 14th Amendment to end the debt ceiling crisis.
Progressive Democrats, upset that Biden negotiated with Republicans, want Biden to avert default by invoking a questionable legal maneuver: an obscure provision in the 14th Amendment ratified in the context of the post-Civil War America, which almost certainly was not designed to be used to override the statutory borrowing limit.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), for example, declared support for the maneuver at a town hall on Friday because she doesn’t want any debt limit to exist.
Turley, a professor at the George Washington School of Law, responded by noting that Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks are evidence that, despite being a lawmaker, she is deeply unfamiliar with basic constitutional law.
“AOC continues to show a striking unfamiliarity with the Constitution,” he said.
To support his thesis, Turley explained that Ocasio-Cortez once questioned the existence of the Supreme Court, which is established by Article 3 of the Constitution. Moreover, not even Laurence Tribe, who excuses the possibility of Biden using the 14th Amendment, “is arguing that it would eliminate any debt limits,” Turley added.
For his next Target, Turley knocked the “constitutional confusion” of Sen. John Fetterman (D-Penn.), who said last week the primary reason the 14th Amendment exists is to address national debt.
Fetterman’s assertion “ignores a few other items like Equal Protection clause,” Turley explained. Ignoring the Equal Protection clause is significant, after all, because it is one of the most cited legal doctrines.
Whether or not the 14th Amendment could even do what Democrats claim, invoking it will not avert the debt ceiling crisis. Instead, it will prolong the crisis while causing another over the legality of the maneuver — all without ever addressing the debt problem.
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