And you’ll never guess which three. Well, maybe you will. Mark Tapscott writes:
But put aside the present for the moment and step into my time machine. Dial the date selector back to 2005 when the Republican majority in Congress approved a national debt limit increase using a self-executing rule similar to the Slaughter Solution.
Guess who went to federal court to challenge the constitutionality of the move? The Ralph Nader-backed Public Citizen legal activists. Here’s the argument they made:
“Article I of the United States Constitution requires that before proposed legislation may “become a Law,” U.S. CONST. art. I, § 7, cl. 2, “(1) a bill containing its exact text [must be] approved by a majority of the Members of the House of Representatives; (2) the Senate [must] approve precisely the same text; and (3) that text [must be] signed into law by the President,” Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417, 448, 118 S.Ct. 2091, 141 L.Ed.2d 393 (1998).
“Public Citizen, a not-for-profit consumer advocacy organization, filed suit in District Court claiming that the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Pub.L. No. 109-171, 120 Stat. 4 (2006) (“DRA” or “Act”), is invalid because the bill that was presented to the President did not first pass both chambers of Congress in the exact same form. In particular, Public Citizen contends that the statute’s enactment did not comport with the bicameral passage requirement of Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution, because the version of the legislation that was presented to the House contained a clerk’s error with respect to one term, so the House and Senate voted on slightly different versions of the bill and the President signed the version passed by the Senate.
“Public Citizen asserts that it is irrelevant that the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate both signed a version of the proposed legislation identical to the version signed by the President. Nor does it matter, Public Citizen argues, that the congressional leaders’ signatures attest that indistinguishable legislative text passed both houses.” (Emphasis added)
And now for the kicker, guess who joined Public Citizen in that suit with amicus briefs:
Hmm. Now, is this not a flip-flop of epic proportions? Of course it is. The left will be quick to point out that Republicans are “flip-flopping” on the issue of Slaughter-type solutions. Not so fast, says Andy McCarthy:
The bad news for present purposes is that they lost the case. The D.C. Circuit in Public Citizen v. U.S. District Court upheld the procedure. Upheld in this case does not mean endorsed. The Court did not say the self-executing rule was constitutional. It said it could not reach the question due to the standards of deference that apply between departments of government: If the presiding officers of both houses of Congress attest that their respective chambers have passed a piece of legislation, the Court is required to accept those representations as conclusive.
That doesn’t mean it is proper for government officials to execute a procedure that violates the Constitution, nor does it mean that a presiding officer should attest something that is not true. It does, however, suggest that it may be an uphill battle to get a court to declare the process null and void.
Mark is correct to point out that raising the debt ceiling is (regrettably) a routine, uncontroversial practice. Byron made a similar point yesterday in running down the handful of times the “self-executing” procedure has been followed. The key here is that in each instance, at issue was something that was non-controversial or almost ministerial — not, as with heathcare, an unpopular, bitterly opposed, ragingly controversial socialization of the private economy.
I think Democrats are mistaking a customary short-cut for a substantive precedent.
Yeah, I’ll say.
In related news, opponents of ObamaCare are making their voices known today by marching on Washington. Pat Austin has the who, what, when, and where of what’s happening.
Update – 11:40 AM: It’s heating up even more on the Hill: House Republicans to force vote on Pelosi’s Slaughter House solution