Are We In Rebellion Yet?

by Fred Ray on October 13, 2011 · 0 comments

Anyone looking for a laugh today (or an example of hyperbole) should check Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s pronouncements today—that the Republicans are “in rebellion” for not supporting President Obama’s jobs bill, just like the Confederacy.

President Obama tends to idealize — and rightfully so  — Abraham Lincoln, who looked at states in rebellion and he made a judgment that the government of the United States, while the states are in rebellion, still had an obligation to function.

Well not exactly. Lincoln was more interested in them staying in the Union. But let’s look at the situation then, in 1861. The Confederacy was an accomplished fact when Lincoln took office, with most federal property seized and occupied in the Lower South. The holdouts, like Fort Sumter in South Carolina and Fort Pickens in Florida, were effectively under siege.
When the lid came off in April he faced an even more immediate problem. Virginia and the rest of the Upper South seceded also, with the border states on the brink. The secession of Maryland would leave the federal capitol completely isolated and surrounded by hostile territory.
Lincoln did do some extra-constitutional things like unilaterally suspending habeas corpus, arresting and incarcerating suspected secessionists like John Merryman without charges or trial, and preventing the Maryland legislature from meeting (and almost certainly seceding). But this was a real emergency, congress was not in session, and something had to be done. How would things have gone if Lincoln had crossed all the t’s and dotted the i’s, and done everything by the legal book?
Over at Powerline blog Steven Hayward takes a look at executive power today in the context of the killing of terrorists who happen to be American citizens and what John Locke said about it. Somehow I don’t think that Congress not supporting a bill is grounds for unilateral executive action.


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