Camera Lucida

January 13, 2006

The constitution and presidential authority

Filed under: Constitutional law, Politics — CL @ 4:36 pm

The current debate about the power of the President to order the interception of communications between Americans and persons outside the U.S. has raised some interesting points about Constitutional interpretation. It is very commonly stated by conservatives and by those who support the President’s position that the Constitution “expressly grants that authority” to him. Of course, it does no such thing. It does provide that the President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the asserted power is said to derive from that grant of authority.

Some of these are the same conservatives who regularly respond to the assertion of a constitutional right of privacy by demanding “show me where in the constitution it says that”. These people are no longer constitutional literalists. Now, they are suddenly willing to engage in a broad and liberal reading of the constitution, reading into its words powers and grants of authority that are not stated in its words.


1 Comment »

  1. I consider myself a conservative but I do agree with you that the interception of calls may not be in line with the constitution.
    It could be that there were no phones when the constitution was written.
    Regardless of whether it is right or not the question should be would you rather be right or dead.
    Those that hate us and are allowed to communicate freely with each other are planning just that.
    For me, I am willing to sacrifice my privacy in order to stay alive.

    Comment by Rich Carter — January 7, 2007 @ 10:39 am

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