"The possibility that the United States will default on its bills has resurrected arguments that the debt limit is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.

If Congress doesn’t suspend or raise the limit on the amount of money that the nation may borrow, the United States could be in default by this summer, according to opinion columnist Jamelle Bouie for the New York Times. That puts President Joe Biden in a difficult situation.

Under the Constitution, the president must “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” which would mean that the president is obligated to fulfill the terms of the budget passed by Congress, Bouie wrote. The public debt clause at Section 4 of the 14th Amendment also applies, according to Bouie and other commentators writing for the New York Times and the New Republic.

The public debt clause reads: “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. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.”


This article was originally posted in the ABA Journal.

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