Let us look to the new year confident in the knowledge that we are treading the well-worn path of those who came before us. And let us continue the work they began by conducting our politics in the institutions created by the Constitution. It may feel a bit unsettling. But welcoming conflict into our political lives will ensure that our future will continue to be brightened by a rising and not a setting sun.Read More
When Leandra English, former chief of staff to the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, asked a federal judge to block President Trump’s appointment of Mick Mulvaney to replace her departing boss Richard Cordray, and to install her as the CFPB’s rightful leader, Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., denied her request. Yet English’s legal team, rejecting the idea that President Trump held the directorship in his hands pursuant to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1988 and Article II of the Constitution, has since vowed to continue its resistance to the President’s action.
Regardless of what happens next in the CFPB matter, this episode illuminated a crisis of authority pervasive in American politics today. The dysfunction it laid bare tells us that we have forgotten what authority means and are thus no longer capable of identifying where it resides in our political system. The result is a post-political order that delegitimizes conflict and undermines the institutions on which we depend to resolve disagreement and forge compromise in a pluralistic society.Read More
The debate in Washington over who’s to blame for the slow pace in filling judicial vacancies (or whether the pace is even slow to begin with) reflects an assumption that is shared by both sides: that the Senate should generally defer to the President in the confirmation process.
But that represents a flawed understanding of the Constitution’s Appointments Clause and the separation-of-powers doctrine on which it is based. Senatorial deference, far from facilitating the proper working of the confirmation process, risks undermining the judiciary’s independence as a coequal branch of government by making the Senate less likely to check the President in determining the composition of the federal bench.
What is healthy, and constitutionally legitimate, is competition between the Senate and the President in the confirmation process. Competition makes it more likely that the judges and justices who are ultimately confirmed will discharge their duties in a manner consistent with the Framers’ designs.Read More
Regardless of where people are on the political spectrum, many Americans—in fact most—believe that something is gravely wrong with the political system today. According to a recent report from Pew Research Center, 55 percent of Americans are frustrated with the federal government. Similarly, popular trust in government is near historic lows. The Pew survey found that only 16 percent of Americans trust the government to do the right thing “most of the time.” A paltry 4 percent of respondents reported trusting the government to do the right thing “just about always.”Read More