Here’s Why the Constitution Won’t Allow Default

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Oct. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Sean Wilentz, professor at Princeton University, puts the debt ceiling limit battle in historical context, explaining why it is unconstitutional for the government to not raise the debt ceiling and how it is President Barack Obama’s duty to take steps to avoid default. He speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

Authority for the president to step in and act unilaterally on the debt ceiling.

Good morning, sara.

It is a two-step process.

Let's start at the beginning.

The 40th mma, -- the 14th amendment makes it absolutely crystal clear that were the house representatives to in any way prevent raising the debt ceiling, they would be in violation of because edition.

-- of the constitution.

That is absolutely clear.

That argument really has not come up.

It is yet to be made.

In part because we are facing in at number rices, but we are also in a political crisis.

One has to go back really to nullification, secession, to find examples like this, the kind of crisis we are in now.

So, to answer your question, if the republicans, if the house representatives was to do that and actually violate the constitution and bring us over the fiscal cliff, if you will, then the president does not have much choice.

What happens is -- he has worn an -- he has sworn an oath of congo -- of office that he is to protect the constitution of the united states.

By his oath alone, constitutionally mandated oath alone, he has to take steps.

Repressor -- repressor shawn willis from prison university, this is a sonic constitutional law done in 1868. can we apply law from another time and place to the modern day?

People talk now about neo- confederates.

We even have republicans -- i think this is outrageous -- talking about a consumers and -- a comparison to gettysburg.

Can we take 1868 and bring it forward to 2013? well, we are america, this is the constitution of the united states.

The constitution of the u.s. goes back to 1787 originally, this is an amendment that was done then.

Of course it is relevant.

The amendment was passed with precisely this kind of situation in mind.

In 1868, they were frightened of some political faction being able to compromise, push their own altars by economizing the dead.

That is the problem.

It is not that it is irrelevant, they were pressing -- where are the houston press on this?

Nancy pelosi would like the president to carry her water and the republicans' water.

Many would say the nancy pelosi and others want the president to go outside the bounds of constitutional convention.

Where are the house democrats in this debate on the 14th amendment?

I am not sure about that.

The house democrats should be well off, actually making the argument that i made in the beginning -- making it clear this is a constitutional issue at stake, clarifying what is at stake.

That would be very useful, not only for them and for the president, but for the entire country.

Summary has to be making that argument.

-- somebody has to be making that argument.

Any suggestion that the president can unilaterally before a violation, before a default, act unilaterally, i do not think that is right.

I think that is constitutionally unsound.

So you can't do that.

If you are pressing the president to do that, you are actually making that unconstitutional.

You do not want to do that.

There is another matter and to make the point that the republicans are violating the constitution of the united states.

That should matter a great deal.

No one is saying that.

Sean, thank you so much for joining us.

Sean wilentz is a princeton university professor, and he is a scholar on the 14th amendment and the constitution.

Moving back to 1868 is the cart before the horse.

The debate of lining up the sequences of discussion here.

In fact, rate valley air -- greg just put out a note that we think the 14th mma could come into play despite what houston eyes.

-- 14th amendment could come into play despite what the house the nice.

This issue has not been litigated since 1935. the only other time it came before the supreme court.

They said it could apply more

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.

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