Does Comey's Dismissal Fit the Definition of a Constitutional Crisis?Breaking News
tags: constitutional crisis
Has the firing of James Comey precipitated a constitutional crisis? The day after the firing, law professors began a vigorous debate. At Politico, the ACLU’s legal director, David Cole, said that a constitutional crisis is at hand because “Anytime a sitting president fires the person responsible for investigating his campaigns potential criminal activities, it is a matter of grave public concern. When that criminal investigation involves collaboration with Russia to undermine the U.S. democratic process, it’s a constitutional crisis.”
In the same symposium, Josh Blackman of the South Texas College of Law disagreed, arguing that “under the Constitution, the president has the absolute power to fire principal officers, such as Director Comey, at will. In that sense, Trump’s actions were entirely constitutional.” In a follow-up podcast debate, Cole argued that a constitutional crisis occurs any time the presidents attempts to subvert a basic constitutional norm, such as the rule of law; Blackman countered that to qualify as a constitutional crisis, the president’s actions have to violate the Constitution itself.
That lack of consensus reflects the difficulty of defining what qualifies as constitutional crisis in the first place, and whether it should be defined narrowly or broadly. But the most convincing definitions tend to be narrow, and under all of them, America is not yet in a constitutional crisis. Whether one materializes depends on what President Trump does next.
As the constitutional scholars Jack Balkin and Sanford Levinson point out in their 2008 article on constitutional crises, the “language of crisis,” has recurred since the ratification of the Constitution, but the phrase “constitutional crisis” has no fixed meaning.
comments powered by Disqus
- In Trump’s America, is the Supreme Court still seen as legitimate?
- The Republican Plan to Repeal Obamacare for Everybody But Alaska Might Be Unconstitutional
- Parliament Square in London Is Closer to Having First Female Statue
- Battle Over Confederate Monuments Moves to the Cemeteries
- German WW1 U-boat found off Belgian coast
- Yale history department now emphasizing global history in undergraduate courses
- University of Utah appoints first Mormon Studies professor
- Eric Foner discusses the manipulation of history
- Male historian tapped to lead Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas
- Decline in History Majors Continues, Departments Respond