The never-ending emergency

Where our Constitution is put into suspended animation.

A number of states are suing the Trump administration over its declaration of a national emergency at the border. The administration’s lawyers and apologists argue that Congress has already delegated the power to the executive to take broadly defined emergency actions, and raid funds appropriated for other purposes for wall construction at the border. Whatever you think of this argument, it points to the larger and growing hole in our Constitution. Through the legal fiction of an emergency, the old rules that governed America, and ensured some democratic check on executive power, are sidelined.

It’s not just Trump’s wall, of course. Emergency powers are now routinely used to join the U.S. into international conflict, often leading to armed conflict. Primarily this is done by the president declaring an emergency and initiating economic sanctions.