Constitutionality of Special Counsel

Discussion in 'US Constitution' started by Tehon, Jul 20, 2018.

  1. Tehon
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    Tehon Gold Member

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    Can someone explain to me how the special counsel is constitutional? I seem to be having a difficult time understanding why it is so.

    Article 2 Section 2 clearly states that the President has the power to appoint officers of the United States who's position shall be established by law.

    I guess my first question would be; What law establishes the position of special counsel?
     
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  2. JakeStarkey
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    JakeStarkey BANNED Supporting Member

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    I imagine the argument of "constitutionality" of a special counsel would determine whether Mueller's remit makes him a superior official, which requires Senate approval, whereas if he were an inferior counsel, that would not be the case.

    Here is some reading, Tehon. Was Mueller's Appointment 'Unconstitutional'? - FactCheck.org

    Not all constitutional scholars subscribe to that argument, however.

    “The idea of Mueller is unconstitutional is preposterous,” Neal Katyal, a professor of national security law at Georgetown University, said in response to Kmiec’s argument in Newsweek in October. “I can’t imagine such an argument flying in the courts.”

    David Sklansky, who teaches criminal law at Stanford, told us it is simply not accurate for the president to claim that the appointment of Mueller was unconstitutional.

    “In 1988, the Supreme Court ruled in Morrison v. Olson that the Constitution allowed an Independent Counsel to be appointed by a three-judge court, completely separate from the Executive Branch,” Sklansky said via email. “In reaching that conclusion, the Supreme Court held that an Independent Counsel is an ‘inferior officer,’ not a ‘principal officer,’ for reasons that very clearly apply to Mueller: (a) he can be removed by a higher-ranking Department of Justice official, (b) he is authorized only to investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute, particular federal crimes, not to formulate Department of Justice policy, and (c) his jurisdiction is limited to the matters delegated to him by the Department of Justice.

    “The only significant difference between Mueller’s appointment and the appointment scheme for Independent Counsels, upheld by the Supreme Court in Morrison v. Olson, is that Mueller, unlike the Independent Counsels, was appointed by President Trump’s own appointee, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, rather than by a three-judge court,” Sklansky said. “But that just makes the argument for the constitutionality of Mueller’s appointment even stronger. Given the Supreme Court’s ruling in Morrison v. Olson, there is no remotely plausible argument that Mueller’s appointment was unconstitutional.
     
  3. Tehon
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    Tehon Gold Member

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    Even if the special counsel is determined to be an inferior office, Article 2 Section 2 clearly states that "Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments."

    You wouldn't by chance happen to be able to cite the law that vests the Attorney General with the power to appoint a special counsel, would you?

    I had read the factcheck article, it was insufficient in helping me in my cause.
     
  4. JakeStarkey
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    JakeStarkey BANNED Supporting Member

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    Tehon, "may" is conditional not mandatory. Nothing prevents the AG from appointing a Special Counsel.

    The factcheck article was in fact more than sufficient in negating your cause. iow, Mueller is constitutional.
     
  5. Tehon
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    Tehon Gold Member

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    If that is the argument Jake, then I don't believe it is constitutional and I very much look forward to seeing how the motion to dismiss filed by Concord Management plays out in court.

    "May" is conditioned on the appointment being "inferior" and it must be implemented "by law". Otherwise the appointment needs to be approved by Congress.

    And BTW, the fact check article made clear that the premise has not been challenged and is a matter of debate among constitutional scholars.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
  6. JakeStarkey
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    JakeStarkey BANNED Supporting Member

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    Nothing beyond the law, Tehon, requires inferior officers to be appointed by Congress.

    Yes, it is a matter of debate, and the 'Mueller is not constitutionally appointed argument' is considered very weak.
     
  7. Tehon
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    Tehon Gold Member

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    You're being obtuse.

    Inferior officers need no congressional approval so long as there is a law that cedes their power and vests it in the President alone, the courts or department heads.

    If your argument is that Mueller is an inferior officer who has been appointed by the head of a department, then the Constitution is clear that the department head must be vested with that power by law. There is no such law on the books that I am aware of that vests the power of appointment for special counsel in the Attorney General. If there was surely you would have pointed it out.

    I understand it is not considered a strong argument. I don't understand why it is not. You can't point to a law that vests power in the AG to appoint Mueller, therefore he is appointed unconstitutionally.

    I must be missing something. It's too obvious.
     
  8. JakeStarkey
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  9. Tehon
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    Tehon Gold Member

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    Below is an excerpt from the motion to dismiss filed in court by the defense counsel for Concord Management.

    https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Concord-Motion-to-Dismiss.pdf
    First, the Appointments Clause of Article II, § 2 of the United States Constitution requires that all “Officers of the United States” be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, though “inferior Officers” may be appointed by the “Head[]” of a “Department[]”— in this case, the Attorney General—if Congress “by Law vest a department head with the authority to do so. The Special Counsel is either a principal officer or an inferior officer. Regardless, his appointment is unconstitutional because he was not appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate as required for a principal officer, and there was no statutory authorization (“by Law”) allowing the Deputy Attorney General to appoint the Special Counsel as an inferior officer and confer on him the Attorney General’s exclusive and plenary prosecutorial authority. Since the requirements of the Appointments Clause are not met, the Indictment must be dismissed.

    Why are the people in support of Donald Trump, who generally regard the Constitution with reverence, quiet on this line of thought? Do they just accept that Janet Reno can write federal regulations with little regard for the Constitution?

    The entire Mueller witch hunt is unconstitutional.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2018
  10. JakeStarkey
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    That's your opinion, yes, Tehon,
     

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