Misinterpreting the Constitution, a Trump specialty

Nearly all US presidents reinterpreted international, constitutional, and US statute laws time and again.

Notably they illegally usurped powers regarding the laws of war by ignoring them—why the US is perpetually at war against invented enemies.

If rule of law principles were observed by US leaders, WW II would have been the war to end all future ones.

Instead it was prelude for decades of endless wars to follow.

Last week, Trump threatened to circumvent states’ rights by deciding when and to what extent they should reopen their economies.

He falsely said, “It is the decision of the president” ‘— clearly not!

Orders to social distance, shelter in place, and maintain a lockdown are the exclusive prerogatives of state governors. The same goes for easing or lifting these orders.

Trump backed off on this issue, putting economy reopening guidelines, leaving it for state authorities to handle things at their discretion.

Last Wednesday, Trump opened another can of worms by threatening to adjourn Congress by executive order, saying the following:

“The Senate should either fulfill its duty and vote on my nominees or it should formally adjourn so I can make recess appointments.”

With House and Senate members scheduled to return to Washington on May 4, he added: “The current practice of leaving town while conducting phony pro forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis.”

“It is a scam, what they do. It’s a scam. And everybody knows it and it’s been that way for a long time, and perhaps it’s never done before. It’s never been done before. Nobody’s even sure if it has, but we’re going to do it.”

House and Senate leaders have “been warned and they are being warned right now.”

“If they don’t approve it, then we’re going to go this route, and we’ll probably be challenged in court and we’ll see who wins, but when the court hears that we aren’t getting people approved… for two and a half years for an important position that we need because of this crisis.”

Trump has a nasty habit of lying, deceiving, misinterpreting, and exaggerating reality.

His reinvented presidential power comes from the Constitution’s Article II, Section 3, stating: The president “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.”

Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley set the record straight, explaining the following: Issues like what’s in the Constitution’s Article II, Section 3 cited above used to be “little more than parlor games for law professors.”

“That all changed with (Trump) where flatlined language suddenly bounced back into life with myriad of controversies.”

The constitutional provision in question lets presidents “on extraordinary occasions” formally adjourn Congress.”

The provision is “untested.” Turley quoted Alexander Hamilton, saying “the president can only adjourn the national legislature in the single case of disagreement about the time of adjournment.”

“Disagreement” refers to differences between both houses, not between Congress and the president.

None between them exists that would warrant adjournment. Both houses agreed on recessing and returning May 4 to maintain social distancing while COVID-19 outbreaks continue.

During this period, both houses are using “pro forma sessions,” lawmakers working from home.

Staying in session prevents Trump from making so-called recess appointments without congressional approval, including individuals lawmakers might reject.

Turley: “[N]o president has ever used this nuclear option for forced adjournment”—notably to make recess appointments that can wait, circumventing Congress.

Trump’s so-called justification for suggesting this route is “strikingly weak,” Turley explained.

It’s about wanting his choice to head the US global Voice of America propaganda operation because he disapproves of some of its “coverage,” said Turley, adding, “He also complained about” not getting enough of his judicial nominees approved despite a “record” number of “confirmations” on his watch.

He reinvented reality claiming more appointments to the federal bench are needed to cope with economic shutdown. Both issues have nothing to do with each other.

The Constitution requires that disagreements between both houses be resolved. No provision covers differences between the executive and lawmakers.

If checks and balances work as intended, disagreements should arise time and again to prevent an imperial presidency.

If Trump adjourns Congress on his own, he’ll risk being overruled judicially.

According to Turley, recess appointments were “denounced (by critics) as archaic and unnecessary.”

Former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia called them “an anachronism.” Turley agrees.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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