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Monday, March 2, 2015

No Roving Mandate

Lyle Denniston writes at Constitution Daily:
Much of the American Constitution is about process, not outcomes. So, if the Supreme Court strikes down a federal law, it is not the court’s duty to find a way to ease the impact of such a ruling. Congress or the Executive Branch might react with a remedy, but – if they are willing to pay the political price – they need not cover for what the court has done that may have harmful consequences.

Similarly, if Congress were to let the government go into a shutdown for lack of money, the White House and the Supreme Court don’t need to reopen the doors of government agencies and put them back to work. In fact, they probably don’t have the power to do that.

Indeed, none of the national government’s branches has a roving mandate to clean up after any other branch that causes some disruption of the civic order. If there is a clear public need to do so, the Founders tended to assume that the system they were designing would take care of it, but they generally did not require that as a constitutional duty.