New York Magazine writer baffled by rule of law support

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Detail of King George III in Coronation Robes, ch. 1765, by Allan Ramsay. (Public domain / via Wikimedia)

TO new York magazine, Ed Kilgore wrote a confession: he doesn’t have principles, and he doesn’t understand people who have them.

Kilgore is absolutely baffled by the fact that, in his words, “the Tories are panicking over the moratorium on evictions”, and he doesn’t understand why, for example, I think Joe Biden is announcing on live television that he will take action he knows to be illegal “challenges Biden’s oath of office.”

Kilgore writes:

Charles C. Cooke praised Biden’s bail, saying the president had violated his oath of office. Cooke called afterwards, and I’m not making it up, to civil disobedience against the moratorium. Not to be outdone, David Harsanyi called the extension of the moratorium an “unprecedented attack on the Constitution” and Phillip Klein urged Republicans to “shut down the Senate” to protest the outrage. Ryan Mills told a human interest story about “small landlords” unable to make ends meet by evicting impecunious tenants and bringing new ones into their properties. And Kevin Williamson rounded things off with a larger article on the abuse of “emergency” powers by past and present presidents. Several more cries of anguish and defiantly shaking fist wishes may have appeared at NR as I write this piece; I hit the post’s paywall in all available directions.

Besides the hysterical use of “civil disobedience” – in fact, I suggested that courts, states, and the American people should follow the law as determined by the Sixth Circuit and the Supreme Court, rather than the made-up law. illegitimately by the CDC – this is a correct summary of NR’s position. And Kilgore just can’t figure out why. At one point, he shares a reader’s suggestion that this is because there are “a lot of owners among NR subscribers / contributors”. In another, he questions whether opposition to politics itself is “a matter of deep conviction in NR”, but suggests that if so, it is a mistake, as it could help. to the “optical problem” of the Republican Party. At no point does it seem to occur to him that we believe that what Joe Biden has done is deeply destructive to our constitutional order, and that it is our duty to say so. That tells us a lot about him, and nothing about us.

As the moratorium was passed, David Harsanyi complained that Trump was “again abandoning the Obama-style executive orders”, while Robert VerBruggen wrote that “the ban oversteps the bounds of the law” and ” courts should not let this stand. ” In May, Andrew McCarthy noted that the measure was losing a lot in those courts and proposed that “Americans should be disturbed, but not surprised” by the new government’s stance. How did Kilgore think NR would react when, after the order had been in effect for almost a year, the Biden administration began telling reporters not only that they intended to renew it using a legal theory she knew was unconstitutional, but intended to do so in the explicit hope that the lawsuits would take some time to resolve.

When Donald Trump stole funds to pay for his border wall, despite the lack of authorization from Congress, I criticized him for “having ended up bypassing the legislature”, for engaging in “Jesuit analysis” and for deciding to “declare yourself a monarch.” Lamenting that no one seemed to care, I wrote:

In 1803, Thomas Jefferson warned that “the special security of Americans is in the possession of a written constitution; don’t make it a white paper by construction. We must also follow this advice with our statutes, because if we don’t, we will be complicit in the destruction of the greatest innovation in government history. Allowing presidents to bypass day-to-day political conflicts by appealing to too large a shadow clause is to tear up James Madison’s Constitution and sanction an alternative settlement in which any sufficiently frustrated executive is able to deepen the statutory well and find a watery justification for getting its way. “Emergency”, “crisis”, “prosecutorial discretion” – these words all mean something concrete. If, when the going gets tough for the president, he can always find enabling legislation somewhere in the forest, then we don’t have a system of government at all. We have a dictatorship. How ironic it would be if historians looked back and concluded that the Anglo-American preference for parliament was not ultimately defeated by Charles I or James II; not by George III or the Declaratory Acts; and not by the panoply of evil, masking the isms which have bloodied the last century; but by simple partisanship, which transformed us first into sophists, then, little by little, into vandals.

For about a month, I echoed this argument on every radio show, TV show, and podcast I could get myself into. I tweeted until I annoyed my followers. I even made a video. To borrow Kilgore’s term, I “panicked”.

Why? Not because I cared a lot about the wall – I didn’t. And no, not because NR has a lot of pro-wall readers, although I have to assume it does. But because I am deeply invested in maintaining our constitutional order to which, as an immigrant, I have taken an oath. It is not partisan, nor is it a matter of political preference. I had the same reaction to Obama’s DACA order, whose objectives I was in favor of. I had the same reaction to Trump’s wall funding, the goals of which I was indifferent to. And I’ll have the same reaction when, in a few years, the next Republican president gets frustrated with Congress and decides to break the law in pursuit of something I will probably like. Either we have a Constitution or we don’t. Now I have to presume that Ed Kilgore’s likes have landed firmly on the don’ts side – at least, not when a president he favors happens to sit in the White House.


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