Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Symbolic Constitution

Several commentators have noted that Senator Biden does not seem to know that the legislative branch, not the executive is article I of the constitution. Moreover, he does not know what jobs the constitution assigns to the Vice President: John Hinderaker conventinetly highlights Biden’t mistakes:


Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history. The idea he doesn’t realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that’s the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.


And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there’s a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.

The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he’s part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.

Biden, a longtime liberal leader of the Judiciary committee, is trying to make a technical argument. The trouble is, he, like many liberals, he does not know, or perhaps even care, what the constitution says in exact detail. He knows platitudes about separations of power, and, as a longtime Senator, that the Vice President can cast a deciding vote. He does not seem to know much beyond that. For someone who believes in a "living constitution," the actual text of the constitution, of course, is a secondary consideration. Instead, they take platitudes about liberty, equality, and separations of power and the like, and reinterpret them to suit what they thing the needs of the day are.

I am reminded of Senator Obama’s comment about going to the UN after Russia invaded Georgia. The details of the UN Charter matter less than what he takes to be its fundamental aims. Senator Obama seems to believe in "living" international law.

Discussions - 4 Comments

I think you and Hinderaker are really reaching here. But I guess I would too if I thought that 1787 was the pinnacle of all human political thought . . .



Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if Biden knew these things and said it to play off of people's anger with the perceived political bullying of Bush and Cheney. I think I'd believe that before I believe he's sat in the Senate, ignorant for thirty years.

Na Joe must be rather ignorant to plagiarize from a LOOSING British Politician. As Fritz Wilhelmsen used to joke, mediocrity borrows greatness steals... but I would suggest the additional add on to his joke by suggest the pathetic steal from the mediocre.

Matt. So you're saying Biden probably lied to score politcal points?

Richard - what politician doesn't?

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