There has been much adieu made about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s disinviting President Donald J. Trump to give the State of the Union address on the floor of the House of Representatives.
But, just as Pelosi had no authority to use a military jet for her overseas vacation with a Congressional delegation Thursday after Trump cancelled her plane, she appears to have no power to stop him from convening the Congress for the State of the Union, especially given the emergency at the southern border.
The legal precedent lies in an opinion from the Deputy Solicitor General for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a man by the name of George T. Washington, who, from his post at the Department of Justice, told Congress that the president has the Constitutional authority to convene them even when they are adjourned, as they are now due to the partial government shutdown.
“There is nothing in the Constitution to indicate, nor is there any other basis for believing, that the President’s power to convene the Congress on extraordinary occasions depends upon the precise nature of the recess or the adjournment, that is, whether the adjournment is sine die, until a day certain, or until the majority leaders of the Congress find it in the public interest to reassemble the two houses,” Washington wrote in 1947.
Washington highlighted that the authority for the President to proceed as such exists especially during “extraordinary occasions.”
“The important factor would appear to be not the nature of the recess or adjournment but, rather, that the Congress is not in session and that an extraordinary occasion has arisen which requires that it be in session and that it convene, therefore, at a date earlier than it otherwise would,” he wrote. “It is beyond question that the two houses of the Congress do not have the power, even by statute, to defeat the constitutional power of the President, under Article II, Section 3, to convene the Congress on such an occasion.”
In this case, the “extraordinary occasion” is obvious: America’s porous southern border is costing American lives and crippling the lives of others via the dangerous drugs that pour into the country unfettered.
In a sane nation, one in which a political party wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice innocent lives or the wellbeing of its citizenry simply to defy a political foe, such legal pretense – all to give a simple speech – might not be necessary. But since, in 2019, the Democratic Party is interested in playing games with America’s security and prosperity, perhaps they’ll need to be compelled to let Trump elucidate the full scope of the problem on a national stage.
If that is the road Pelosi and company want to take, Trump appears to have the legal authority squash them yet again – and he should.
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