Michael Fitzgerald | Conflated Constitutional Principles

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

It appears there is a conflation of two separate constitution principles — the 14th Amendment, and full faith and credit. In a letter to the editor on July 11, an argument was presented that Congress is acting unconstitutionally in imposing a debt ceiling. Neither of these constitutional principles have anything to do with the other.  

On reading the 14th Amendment, one will find that Congress’ obligation and duty to pay the public debts is limited to the incursion of costs acquired during the Civil War. As stated in the 14th Amendment, Section 4, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” There is no fiduciary obligation presented in this amendment regarding the current debt ceiling. I suppose neither will the same obligation be found in the full faith and credit clause, coincidently not in the 14th Amendment:

Article IV, Section 1: “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.” 

Again, this is not a fiduciary obligation on the part of Congress. Rather, it is a requirement of the federal government to recognize as valid all the acts of state and local courts. This is why a civil judgment rendered in California is upheld as valid in Texas, full faith and credit is granted to the state courts. Nothing to do with Congress’ fiduciary obligations. 

Congress absolutely has the right to regulate its own spending. It is the only body constitutionally granted the power to raise and levy taxes and to borrow money on the national credit. It is either an unfortunate misapprehension or a purposeful misapplication of the texts referred to in the earlier letter that  would lead to the conclusion that Congress is violating the Constitution by imposing a debt ceiling.  

Michael Fitzgerald 


Related To This Story

Latest NEWS