Tag Archives: United States Constitution

Presidential Pardon – Article II

The district court judge dismissed the guilty verdict against Sheriff Joe Arpaio citing President Trump’s plenary power to pardon under Article II of the United States Constitution.

“Prosecutor John Keller said it was appropriate to dismiss the case against Arpaio.”

 

State Courts Are Co-Equal to Federal Courts

The Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the United States Constitution states:

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

While federal law trumps state law, nothing under the Supremacy Clause compels a state court’s interpretation of a federal law to give way to a lower federal court. In Lockhart v. Fretwell, Justice Thomas stated in his concurrence that “a state trial court’s interpretation of federal law is no less authoritative than that of the federal court of appeals in whose circuit the trial court is located.” 506 U.S. 364, 375-76 (1993).  Justice Thomas gave the following example: “An Arkansas trial court is bound by this Court’s (and by the Arkansas Supreme Court’s and Arkansas Court of Appeals’) interpretation of federal law, but if it follows the Eighth Circuit’s interpretation of federal law, it does so only because it chooses to and not because it must.”

The Supreme Court is the final interpreter of federal law. When it rules, then the states are bound.

Only Congress Has the Power to Declare War

Under Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, the Congress has the power to “declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water[.]”  The Founders wisely thought that the Legislature is in a better position than the President to carry out the will of the people.  Congressional debate can test the arguments for and against intervention in global problems.  Every two years members of the House are kept in check by the voters, who ought to dictate what American foreign policy should be.

James Madison, commonly referred to as “Father of the Constitution,” once said:

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.  War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.  In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force of the people.  The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes and the opportunities of fraud growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both.  No nation could reserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

Under the War Powers Resolution, the President can deploy U.S. forces anywhere outside the U.S. for 180 days, provided Congress is informed in writing within 48 hours.  The executive does not need Congress to declare war for the 180 days, however, that time period cannot be extended without congressional authorization.  The President has the authority to introduce American forces into hostilities only when there is:

(1) a declaration of war

(2) specific statutory authorization, or

(3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

The Supreme Court has never reviewed the War Powers Resolution to see if it passes constitutional muster.  Although Congress will say that it has “the power to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution, not only its own powers but also all other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer . . . [,]” the Court, however, has ruled in other cases that one branch of government cannot give power away to another.