(Nov. 20The Democratic presidential field’s affection for federal executive tyranny continued Wednesday night when billionaire Tom Steyer said he would use the president’s “emergency powers” to address climate change.

What Steyer proposes is an abominable subversion of our constitutional system. Presidential emergency powers are a dicey concept anyway. Even where barely allowable under constitutional precepts, though, emergency powers are meant for threats that are immediate. The president may use such powers, going around the ordinary law-making process, only when a threatened harm is serious enough, and so imminent, that the deliberative process of legislating is entirely untenable.

Even if a problem is supposedly a “crisis,” that’s not enough to justify emergency executive power. The crisis must be of an immediacy that flat-out doesn’t allow time for debate. Even if climate change is a crisis (a debatable proposition), it is not one that qualifies under this standard of immediacy. A president may use emergency powers only where Congress cannot act, not merely because Congress chooses not to act. Emergency powers are not meant to allow a president to substitute his will for the collective will of the people’s representatives. They are meant only for circumstances in which Congress’s will cannot be determined.

Steyer’s proposal, if he actually tried it, would be an abuse of power every bit as bad, if not worse, than Trump’s utterly impeachable actions with regard to Ukraine. It is a form of dictatorship, and it should never be countenanced.

[Note: This IS the full blog post.]


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