Trump’s Emergency Powers Are ‘Ripe for Abuse’


The legal powers available to the president
during a national emergency are ripe for abuse. Congress should act now to rein them in, before President Trump or a future president uses them to undermine our Democracy. Unknown to most Americans, Congress has over the years passed more than
100 provisions of law that give the president increased powers the moment he declares a national emergency. This decision is left entirely to the president’s
discretion: There’s no legal definition of emergency, no requirement that Congress ratify the decision, and no judicial review. Many other laws expand the president’s powers during specific types of emergency, like war or public health crises, even without
a formal declaration. I co-direct the Liberty and National Security
Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, and we’ve been conducting a comprehensive
review of emergency powers. Some of them are formidable. For instance, during a national emergency, the president can shut down radio stations
or take them over. If there’s a threat of war, he can go further and take over facilities
for wire communication. That law was last used during World War II, when most American households didn’t even
have a telephone. Today, it could be interpreted to allow the
president to assert control over Internet traffic inside the United States. Simply by proclaiming a mere threat of war, President Trump could shut down websites, block emails, and alter search results. Another law, called the Insurrection Act, allows the president to deploy military troops
inside the U.S. to suppress any “unlawful combination”
or “conspiracy” that’s obstructing the execution of the
law. Once again, the statute doesn’t define these
terms. President Eisenhower used this law to enforce
desegregation in Arkansas schools. But it’s vague enough to be used against
political protesters or undocumented migrants. In theory, if Congress decides the president
has gone too far, it can vote to terminate a state of emergency. But that would require a veto-proof majority, and Congress hasn’t even attempted such
a vote in more than 40 years. In practice, we’ve been relying on presidents
to exercise self-restraint, and hoping the courts will step in if they
don’t. That’s a gamble we can no longer take. Invoking emergency powers is a standard move for authoritarians seeking to consolidate
power, like the Philippines’ Duterte or Turkey’s
Erdogan. These are the very same rulers Trump has said
he admires. If President Trump feels that his hold
on the White House is threatened, either by an election or by impeachment, he might just follow their example. Congress needs to fix our system of emergency
powers to provide better protections against abuse. It should put strict time limits on presidentially
declared states of emergency, and it should revise emergency powers to ensure
that they don’t threaten Americans’ fundamental
rights and freedoms. This Congress is unlikely to do all that, but forward-looking committee chairs can get
launch the process by reviewing existing emergency declarations and powers. Time to get started on reform is now, before emergency powers create a emergency
for our democracy.

100 thoughts on “Trump’s Emergency Powers Are ‘Ripe for Abuse’

  1. Yes. At the very least, there should be time limits on declarations of national emergency that are extendable with congressional or judicial approval. Unfortunately, I would not put it past President Trump to abuse his powers under a state of national emergency to benefit himself at the expense of our democracy and the rule of law. I really wish it were otherwise, but I have very little trust in President Trump to act in good faith under such circumstances.

  2. Having overgrown executive powers has been a pretty big flaw in the american system for some time, its why an american style government when implemented in other countries has such a terrible track record for devolving into dictatorship. This is an inevitable problem to have when congress is set up in such a way, bicameral to weaken the legislative branch with internal division, with a first past the post plurality rules voting system that encourages two parties, political polarization, and no coalitions, that makes it very difficult to quickly produce laws and policy directives. Not to mention both chambers are so rarely controlled by the presidents party.

    With such a weak system for a legislative branch we naturally fear gridlock and political paralysis in an emergency so for decades we gave the president more powers and congress has taken very little role in determining policy direction. Parliamentary systems are to be envied some for that reason. The head of government necessarily has a legislative majority or coalition that forms a majority and so there is no fear of political paralysis sufficient to justify conveying so many emergency powers to the chief executive.

  3. Illegal aliens who has no right in America shouldn't have never been fraudulent let in.Whatever Trump gotta do to end treasonous traitors who destroyed America so be it been a long time since America law been enforced anyway.

  4. Can't do anything while Mitch McConnell leads the senate. Let's hope democrats take back the senate and the white house in 2020, or Trump will feel validated in his behavior. Remember, his first decision after the mid-terms was to fire Sessions and replace him with a stooge.

  5. First of all, The United States is a republic, not a democracy. Secondly, where was Elizabeth Goitein when obama was in office for eight years?

  6. It's quite telling that the Bolsheviks are letting their fear show for the first time since they took out Kennedy. It tells me that the right choice was made in electing Donald J Trump.

    and the knowledge that they fear, is a weapon to be used against them….
    -Peart

  7. oh, yeh – and the elephant in the room – always missing- The Atlantic is totally blind to 'elite approved' most egregious abuse of power: to wit- 1933 FDR confiscation of ALL money in the USA (gold) and replacing it with green pieces of paper, subject to whatever manipulation/inflation FDR and the Fed had in mind. That 'law' was on the books till 1974, when it was quietly 'retired'. So, go there to the market and buy gold for $20 per oz – which is legal price last time legal money existed in USA, lol.. Now: what idiot needs to use some other stupid 'emergency powers', facing all kinds of unforeseen consequences, while they are milking the herd forever by simply confiscating the property and taxing them for eternity.

  8. I remember, at a political sub reddit, a republican dude was talking just that. It was in Obama's presidency and people from the left was marking that guy as a racist.

    Now the Democrats want to reduce president's power during emergency. Wow..

    The republicans will support that I am sure. But the democrats will change their colors as soon as a democrat president is in the office.

  9. If this doesn't at least get you thinking about king Rump you are still asleep, wait till he takes it all away then it will be too late huh!

  10. A very sobering and scary topic in our present time, I'm glad Ms Goitein draws attention to it. I live in fear that someone in 45's camp will draw attention to the video's content, and he starts to ruminate on it.

  11. Bunch of fear-mongering.

    If Trump did this, people everywhere, even his supporters, would rise up against him. The 2nd Amendment that his supporters (and I) hold so dear might be called upon to defend our country against tyranny.

  12. Americans have voted for Donald J Trump. Now they reap what they sow. If pushed, you can bet that DJT will wield powers of emergency with abandonment. The next dictator has been made and Americans are still oblivious. DJT can stop all communications. He can override congress. Senate won't play ball, Republicans will just play along. America will either be scarred permanently or changed into a dictatorship.

  13. That's why we need our guns. Not for Trump in particular but any President, politicians or organizations that want to take our Liberties. These laws of emergency are as necessary as our 2nd amendment and our 1st. If a war breaks out whatever President is in power is commander in chief. The President would need that power at his or her disposal. If he or she uses that power against the people we are armed and fight fire with fire. Many other countries have regretted giving up arms. This system has been set up with a lot in mind by FREE individuals, every one thinks they can do a better job and every country fails.

  14. LOL
    Perhaps the douchebags in washington shouldn't have been consolidating power in the executive for the past 100+ years.
    It's long been time for the US to adopt a parliamentarian system.

  15. The Constitution does contain an emergency powers clause. Article I, Section 9 allows for the suspension of habeas corpus in cases of rebellion or invasion. 1
    From the fact that the suspension clause exists, you can deduce something very basic to the U.S. constitutional system: There are no other inherent constitutional emergency powers. Yes, the president is commander in chief, with the power to defend the United States — but he can only do that with an army authorized and paid for by Congress.
    That means any emergency power the president might have must come directly from Congress

  16. YES, The POTUS can do these things, by law. Because we have Rule of Law. Stop acting as though you have some 'moral authority' to suggest revising the way America works. DEMS whine sadly about 'our democracy' all the time, but this is a Republic. Stop pretending women and children and low IQ migrants have any IDEAS about running a successful Nation.

  17. “Congress shall make laws”.and they did. They gave powers to the president and commander in chief so that he could exercise them. And you are looking to Congress for a fix, that’s laughable.

  18. [Unbeknownst to many Americans, there is one legal scenario in which the president’s power substantially increases. This is the moment he declares a national emergency.]
    This is disingenuous, emotionally leading and fundamentally dishonest.
    We have been in a State of War since 9/11, anyone attacking, or impediing / harrassing the POTUS should be dealt with. 
    DEMS seem to teach that any idiot can become a 'somebody' by pretending they know better that the Leader of the Free World. This b*tch speaks softly, but she is inventing a false scenario, while obfuscating what is really happening.
    Lefties don't understand, Conservatism is a counter-punch. We are not against 'change', just the changes proposed by these wolves in sheep's clothing, seeking not only to undermine, but influence the dimmer folk by emotional manipulation.

  19. did you have this same reaction when obama did it for yemen? something that comparatively has zero impact on our nation's security or economy? i dont think so. you are just another political hack hating on anything that trump does, even if it is for the good of our nation

  20. This is extremely frightening. Trump is narcissistic and becoming more and more unstable. He admires dictators and now has only loyal people surrounding and advising him.Congress has to put a limit on Trump before he abuses his power. Where is the GOP?

  21. Congress gave Obama these powers and the NSA trounces on each and every citizens privacy rights. In an emp attack followed by invasion it would work well, foreign operations on American soil are ongoing

  22. What democracy?
    Lol.
    That's the whole point AND problem.
    There is NO real democracy. Just as Malcolm X said in 1962
    I'm not 100% sure if Trump is with the criminals or not.
    But, It also seems very clear to me that they HATE him and wants him out because he's obviously tearing down what they've built over hundreds of years.

  23. If he calls for a National Emergency, I guess we'll see who all the criminals are in the Democratic Party over the past 8 years…
    I guess we'll have to just wait and see.

  24. I pray that the voters think carefully before casting their vote! Don't experiment; research & make the right decision!

  25. Are you talking about the same Erdogan that trump helped aid and shelter the coup against a democratic elected turkey president?!

  26. We hope that President Trump do the Emergency Powers and stop the Radical Feminists democrats and the CNN from destroying America and poising our kids !!! Build the Wall and stop the drugs ! Stop the Fake media . Make them accountable ! They print lies and make stories up all the time and never apologizes . The whole World is watching the Witch Hunt of the Muller and the Corrupt FBI !!!! Hillary did a lot Worse and she is not arrested ? Why ?

  27. Whoa you mean the left is now making a deal and trying to abuse their power by stopping Trump from being able to use what has been afforded to every other president with no issues! You people are sick! You haven't given him a chance and won't so He should use it NOW! He hasn't when he should have long ago to drain the swamp & be able to do his job! You are abusing Americans who voted fair and square because we wanted a change. You are the dictators trying to dictate everything Trump does!

  28. So what he is the President, Nancy Pelosi thinks that she is President! Suck it up! BUILD THE WAR! Yeah strict powers should be put on those want to assassination attempts on the President. There fas been 12 assassination attempts so far so shut the he’ll Up!

  29. Barack Obama declared 13 national emergencies. Who was concerned then? Oh yeah, because Obama was on OUR side. And Obama NEVER abused his powers. Personally, I'm much more worried about women who cheer late-term abortions, and stay silent when heroes are honored. Dangerous, cultlike herd mentality.

  30. Trump is likely overstepped his authority. A declaration of emergency is something that everyone can see and understand such as a terrorist attack, natural disaster or an epidemic like swine flu would likely be considered an emergency.

    But a massive long term construction project that takes more than a decade to compete is likely unconstitutional. Trump needs to reined in before this happens.

  31. LoL! When the Left passed all those laws giving the president all of those additional powers during a declared emergency, they never dreamed they'd have to deal with an 'uncontrolled president' like Trump. They figured all presidents would be tools to do their bidding and increased powers would serve their purposes.
    Well that shit just back-fired on those grimey cocksuckers. LoL! Fuck all of you Leftist shitheads! Trump is smarter than you. You bunch of dumbasses! Lololololol!!!!!!

  32. Let’s just pass a law that says they can’t infringe on the constitution, in a direct way (gun confiscation) and that’s it

  33. Trump is playing 3D chess while the Dems play old school checkers. For too long the republicans have fallen for the lefts control tactics. He's read their playbook. He's now rewriting how to respond. This panics the left.

  34. To this speaker. Stop and study the law as it stands. it was placed as such for a reason , so do your home work and stop stupid talk.

  35. She probably supported Obama when he used his executive orders for DACA. Oh wait…..that was Obama though, so, it's okay. LMAO!

  36. Save what you're missing is he has the power and all presidents have the power to build a wall to protect the citizens of this country and if 90% of a certain drug is coming from that Southern border that is a emergency because we have over doses in this country

  37. There should be limits to everything but the only conditions, limits, restrictions, and fighting going on are directed at Trump. Trump is the enemy of the corrupt, criminal organizations we call elected officials. They are afraid of his accomplishments, afraid he will wake the people of this country up to the true value of a politician. They sit around complaining, whining, proposing, speaking but do nothing except pass laws that cost the taxpayer money. They care for the criminal but not the victims, they care for illegals, not the citizens. They continue to want to take their junkets overseas with their entourages even when the federal employees have been furloughed. Does that say they care? Yes about themselves. When our elected officials begin to act as they care, do the job they are paid for, accept the same benefits and living conditions that we accept, then they will be heard. Until then, let them keep collecting their government checks to do nothing but promote their party. This includes all sides, all parties.

  38. So with impeachment looming a excuse is is used and powers unlocked meaning a scary uncertain future! Over a made up crisis!

  39. Congress should have acted to prevent the national emergency. They are just playing politics. Tis OK, as long as we get rid of the democrats in November. In the mean time, we need a wall that works. There are just too many organized efforts to encourage illegal caravans. Those charging the border need to be shot. Building a working wall will save lives on both sides of the border. This could get really nasty really quickly. Democrats need to find another way to steal votes.

  40. I find it rather disturbing that there is a PragerU ad that played prior to this video. PragerU is a two-bit propaganda broadcast for the personal ideology of Dennis Prager. It is neither a "university" nor accredited in any way. It is not terribly "historically accurate" and tends to carefully cherry-pick only those things that support its views. That YouTube seems with regularity and intention to "preface" the narrow-minded, mendacious, dissembling agitprop of self-proclaimed "opposition voices" against respected journalistic outlets such as The Atlantic is spurious to say the least. How does this particular "ad", which is was just a 5:42 video from PragerU, get "attached" to this 3:41 video from The Atlantic?

  41. How about us border states just start our own militia and treat this like an invasion…because that is exactly what this is… they oppress their own kind and use them as drug mules and sex slaves… Come on down to AZ and I can show you…

  42. A Dictator?
    It is March 9, 1933 and in Title I, we see Congress giving retroactive approval to all executive orders and/or proclamations issued by the President since March 4, 1933, the day of his inauguration, but more important (ominous), Congress is giving approval to future executive orders or proclamations that the President of the United States or the Secretary of the Treasury (of Puerto Rico) may issue without knowing what they will be. By virtue of this language, Congress has just made a dictator of the President of the United States. The President may now rule the nation by executive order & proclamation. Anything he proclaims, any law he wishes to make, has already been approved. This same power is being conferred on the Secretary of the Treasury (of Puerto Rico). So much for separation of powers. Little by little we begin to understand the need for a police state, for military involvement in civilian matters, for foreign troops (now numbering in the many thousands) stationed in what are now closed military bases.

    "The conflict known as the world war ended as far as military hostilities were concerned, but was not yet officially terminated. Most of the war statutes are still in effect and many of the emergency organizations are still in operation."
    The term “emergency” is italicized above because it is the declaration of an EMERGENCY that becomes the catalyst for the passage of un-constitutional laws to deal with the emergency. It is the rule of necessity.
    EMERGENCY
    On March 9, 1933 an Act was passed. The Act is generally known as the Banking Relief Act of March 9, 1933. From its name a person wouldn't immediately feel apprehension. Yet, this Act contained powers and measures that caused our whole system of law to change and placed the united States of America under a form of military rule. At first the changes were made slowly but, more recently they have been gathering momentum as more and more of the right people have been placed in key positions. I suspect there may also be an urgency because the people of the United States are beginning to wake up.
    The emergency powers provided by this act, when examined, are extraordinary and have the potential to be dangerous for they place almost unlimited powers in the hands of one man. How did a Banking Relief Act become a source of EMERGENCY POWERS that placed America under military rule?

  43. Thank GOD it is Trump using such powers & NOT a DC monster SWAMP like Obama! MSM is a fraud of DNC propaganda spewing lies, smears and collusion delusion! Back when article came out U all LIED about Russia collusion w/TRUMP when all along it was OBAMA/Brennan/Comey/Clinton colluding w/Russia & Ukraine! The only one shutting down internet for DNC/Fascist DEM, is YOU the MSM!

  44. 'Tariff Man' to the rescue …bend over everyone …Don is gonna take control…"Holy Christ save us all!!!!"

  45. That power was given by the Democrats in H.R. 3884… in fact the Democratically contrived Congress wrote the provisions of the law. So why not put Clinton Or Obama on there as they declared more emergency’s than any Republican President.

  46. Can someone please remind all the morons out there that THIS IS NOT A DEMOCRACY!!!IT’S A REPRESENTATIVE REPUBLIC!!! Words have meanings! SMH!

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