Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Post Constitutional Era! Part XIV

Article 2 - The Executive Branch
Section 3 - State of the Union, Convening Congress


"He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States."
 
Regarding this power of the President to adjourn Congress, which has never been used by any President, has been viewed as only to be used when the upper and lower houses cannot agree on a time to adjourn themselves. There is some discussion that this article applies to “extraordinary occasions”, although that phrase isn’t explained and it’s argued it only applies to convening Congress – not adjourning Congress – which fits the context of discussion although it may not fit the grammar.  Much of this is important now because of the idea of using recess appointments to by-pass the needed approval of the Senate. 

 There is also another troubling scenario presented here:

Let's say the the GOP House of Representatives decided they were going to impeach Obama. Obama, and Senate Democrats not wanting this, decide on a plan: The US Senate would decide to adjourn, and then Obama would declare that there is a "Case of Disagreement" on when to adjourn and forcibly adjourn both houses before the House could pass articles of impeachment, and he could conceivably keep them adjourned until the end of the session (as it says he has the power to adjourn them until "such Time as he shall think proper."
Other than being an obvious abuse of power, I think one can see the problem here: with the interpretation CitizenVox is using, if the President and one House of congress are of the same party, they could coordinate to force the adjournment of both Houses of congress, whether the other house actually intends to adjourn or not.”

“And that's where I think a careful reading of the actual power is important: "in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment" - this suggests that both Houses have passed resolutions to adjourn but can't agree on the specifics and, for whatever reason, can't work out their differences. Then, and only then, can the President use his power to adjourn both houses himself. Otherwise you may create a situation above where the President can adjourn one of the Houses of Congress, even if they have no intention of actually adjourning. That seems contrary to the spirit, and possibly the letter, of the Constitution.”

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