Separation of Powers and the Debt Ceiling - Virtual

Teacher: Chris Herr and Tristan Black-Ingersoll

Editor: Corey Genest

General Description

Abstract:
The Constitution created a federal government based on the principle of eparation of powers among the branches in order to prevent the abuse of power so feared by our Founders. That separation of powers provides Congress with the power to tax, spend and borrow money while execution of those policies falls on the President. In addition, Congress has created a statutory debt ceiling that limits federal government borrowing, while at the same time passing spending policies that can and sometimes do exceed the very debt ceiling Congress has established, creating conflicting orders for the executive to enforce. Further complicating matters is the meaning of Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment regarding the validity of the public debt of the United States and the burdens Section 4 imposes on Congress and the President. These Constitutional issues could intersect and put the President in the precarious position of deciding the constitutionality and necessity of continuing to borrow money on behalf of the federal government in excess of the debt ceiling in order to avoid default.

Essential Questions:
  • Does the Constitution give the President the authority to continue borrowing money in excess of the debt ceiling in order to avoid default?
  • Should the President continue borrowing money in excess of the debt ceiling in order to avoid default even if the Constitution does not expressly grant the President authority to do so?

Materials and Documents

Quote
These two days were so valuable! It's the best PD I've had in a long time. I enjoyed hearing what teachers do in other parts of the country. Judge Rendell coming really made an impact on me. Her coming made me feel that what we do is important.
- Teacher
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