That Pesky Section 4 of the 14th Amendment?


Do you want your Representative in Congress and your United States Senator to uphold the Constitution?  If so, they’d better quit listening to the tea parties.

Note to tea partiers, libertarians, Ron Paul Bots, and the political panderers who would not vote to raise the debt ceiling….

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.”

According to Page 294 U. S. 353

“….The Congress, as the instrumentality of sovereignty, is endowed with certain powers to be exerted on behalf of the people in the manner and with the effect the Constitution ordains. The Congress cannot invoke the sovereign power of the people to override their will as thus declared. The powers conferred upon the Congress are harmonious. The Constitution gives to the Congress the power to borrow money on the credit of the United States, an unqualified power, a power vital to the government, upon which in an extremity its very life may depend. The binding quality of the promise of the United States is of the essence of the credit which is so pledged. Having this power to authorize the issue of definite obligations for the payment of money borrowed, the Congress has not been vested with authority to alter or destroy those obligations….”

Golly, who knew?

Tea Partiers and hard line libertarians who are demanding the GOP not raise the debt ceiling might want to check out the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 4:

“...Section 4 confirmed the legitimacy of all United States public debt legislated by the Congress. It also confirmed that neither the United States nor any state would pay for the loss of slaves or debts that had been incurred by the Confederacy. For example, several English and French banks had lent money to the South during the war. In Perry v. United States (1935), the Supreme Court ruled that voiding a United States government bond “went beyond the congressional power” on account of Section 4. Republican economist Bruce Bartlett argues that Section 4 renders the debt ceiling unconstitutional, and obligates the President to consider the debt ceiling null and void….”

It comes from Perry V. United States, 294 U. S. 330 (1935)

“…11. Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment, declaring that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, . . . shall not be questioned,” is confirmatory of a fundamental principle, applying as well to bonds issued after, as to those issued before, the adoption of the Amendment, and the expression “validity of the public debt ” embraces whatever concerns the integrity of the public obligations. P. 294 U. S. 354….”

Supreme Justia




2 thoughts on “That Pesky Section 4 of the 14th Amendment?

  1. This ‘slight’ twisting of the truth is very common in Liebertarian-ist circles because of the way “anything” can be interpreted.

    For instance: “…The binding quality of the promise of the United States is of the essence of the credit which is so pledged…”

    I hate to pull a Slick Willy but what does IS mean in this context?

    Was that an IS in the past? present or future?

    Clinton was right. It all depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘IS‘ is. Does ‘IS‘ mean is and never has been?

    or ‘IS‘ meaning now at this exact moment?

    or is ‘IS‘ used as a Third person singular present indicative of be. (American Heritage Dictionary)

    or to put it another way:
    What is the square root of pi divided by infinity times 0?

    When it comes to Libertarian-ism there ‘IS‘ no single definitive answer. That IS because of the first Libertarian, the original Libertarian, the very very 1st Ayn Rand Fan and his use of the word IS.

    Genesis 3
    The Fall
    1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

    2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that IS in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

    4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

  2. It IS rather amazing how they think.

    My big thing is the difference between “truth” and factual accuracy. Truth is how a person looks at something. Factual accuracy is just that.

    Libertarians aren’t too good at either.


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