Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A "Czar Amendment" is probably not needed

As the controversy over now resigned Green Jobs Czar Van Jones intensified, Allahpundit over at hotair.com wrote this:

"When the GOP eventually takes back Congress, one of its first acts should be a statute or even a constitutional amendment, if necessary to avoid separation-of-powers concerns, requiring “czars” to sit through the same Senate confirmation process that cabinet appointees are made to endure." (Emphasis mine.)

A careful reading of the Constitution suggests that an amendment is not necessary; that Congress can put the brakes on president appointed czars anytime it wants. Here's the relevant text from Article II, Section 2:

"(H)e shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the 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."

The emphasis is mine. Congress is granted a power to in effect, say to the president, "You may appoint this particular officer, or that one, and you need no consent from the senate to do so." But by the same token, this seems to empower Congress to tell the president he can't appoint people to fill this office or that one without the advice and consent of the senate.

Note carefully what I'm saying. I'm not arguing that once President Obama named Van Jones "Green Jobs Czar" Congress had any authority to say to Obama, "That's a bad selection; try again." But what I am saying is that Article II, Section 2 means Congress can designate Green Jobs Czar as a position that is not exempt from a need for senatorial confirmation, regardless of who the president nominates.

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