The Constitution, How Does It Work?

The President is going to court to force the Department of Justice, which works for him, to take his lead on how to handle the seizure of his own attorney's papers. This is roughly like the House of Representatives suing the Senate in Federal Court because they disagree with how the Senate has handled a bill they forwarded.

What the court should say, of course, is that this is an internal Executive Branch matter over which the court has no power. Instead, they are apparently taking seriously the assumption that a court should have authority to rule over a dispute between the President and his employees in the Executive Branch.

Meanwhile, the Senate is considering a law that would give a Special Counsel recourse to the courts to sue if they are fired and get themselves reinstated. Presumably that would have to be passed into law over the President's veto, but if so it would represent a seizure of constitutional authority from the Executive by the other two branches of government.

The proposed law also seems to create the Department of Justice as a kind of independent secret police. You can see how wise this is if you substitute in the name of any other secret police: "...a [Stasi investigator] may be fired only by the [head of the Stasi], and only for good cause, like misconduct." I'm sure we all have a higher opinion of the DOJ and the FBI than we do of the Stasi or the Gestapo, but the point of constitutional limits on power is to assume that someday bad people might get in charge. Do you really want to set up a secret police that is fully independent of elected officials?

This really has turned into a constitutional crisis.


Tom said...

Maybe Congress could just do its own job?

Anonymous said...

I think we need civil service reform. By over-protecting allegedly non-political appointees, we have created a politicized class of people who think they are entitled to run this country. This was an inherent risk in creating the civil service in the first place.

Any system can be gamed.


Tom said...

I agree. The protections and powers they enjoy need to be greatly weakened.