chapter  11
21 Pages

Illegal Defiance of Constitutional Authority

Thomas Reed Powell believed that the Federalist founders shared a positive attitude toward change and would have been shocked by the Americans of the 1930s who regarded proposals or constitutional innovation as “impious.” The Court’s critics may often have been wrong, and may have been motivated by racial, class, or religious preferences; but the society as a whole surely expanded its consciousness in terms of constitutional perception. From the perspective of the government’s legal counsel, Americans were “having something of a Constitutional Renaissance at the present time—a rediscovery of the Constitution.” Public officials and jurists recognized that decisions of the sort permanently diminished the viability of states’ rights. The complexity of Congress’s relationship to the presidency was underscored in 1983, when the Supreme Court issued an unanticipated decision declaring the so-called legislative veto unconstitutional. The presumption that congressional legislation was likely to be constitutional became very strong.