This is not about walls, or about Trump.
This is about proper Constitutional Governance.
It is my well considered view that Trump’s action is blatantly unconstitutional and shows a complete disregard for the rule of law. I also believe that the courts will quickly put an end to it, up to and including the Supreme Court.
But again, turning away from walls and Trump in particular.
The three branches of government were never intended to be equal in power. While each is intended to have checks against the others, the founders very much intended that Congress would be supreme among the three branches. With one House directly elected by the people and the other House elected by the States (and later directly by the people), Congress is the branch closest and most accountable to the people at large. The President, on the other hand, was not originally intended to be elected by the people at all, but rather indirectly by the State legislatures, a setup that later morphed into today’s system.
Congress was intended to set the policies and priorities of the nation, with the President carrying those policies and priorities into effect. The President was intended to have primacy in a few areas, such as foreign affairs and the conduct of war.
But one power that by long principle belongs to legislatures everywhere is the power of the purse. The power to grant or deny to the executive funds.
Congress DENIED the President funding for the wall. In trying to use a national emergency to sidestep this, Trump is breaching the greatest check of the legislature on the executive, the power of the purse.
This cannot stand and when the courts act, they must strike this down and with the most blistering language possible.
CONGRESS ALONE DECIDES WHETHER TO FUND A WALL OR NOT TO FUND A WALL. If Congress denies funding, THAT IS THE END OF THE DISCUSSION, NO WALL.
Any attempt to breach the Congressional power of the purse should be regarded as a direct attack on the Constitution and the rule of law.
But I will go farther than this. President’s since Abraham Lincoln have been stretching the bounds of the Presidency ever farther. That includes all of the recent Presidents.
It is beyond time for Congress to retrench and regain its rightful role as the Supreme Branch of government and the setter of the nation’s policies and priorities. Enacting narrowly written legislation instead of broadly written legislation, including sunsets on all legislation and repealing legislation that authorizes national emergencies to be declared by the President would be a good start.
The Presidency has long been too powerful and it is beyond time to begin restraining the President’s powers.
The above link is to the United States Statutes at Large for June 4, 1794. It was an act permitting the President to lay embargoes. The act was self expiring, unless Congress renewed it and embargoes laid by the President automatically expired 2 weeks after Congress returned to session and the President could not unilaterally lay embargoes if Congress was in session. Congress kept a tight leash on the Presidency for the first few decades.
Today, open ended laws have granted modern Presidents FAR too much power. Beyond time to narrow these laws and reign in the President.
Most importantly, the power of the purse must be made inviolate.