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Judge Napolitano: President Obama Absolutely Cannot Use the 14th Amendment to Raise the Debt Ceiling

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Published on Jan 14, 2013

Some Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have called on President Obama to use the 14th Amendment to the Constitution in order to raise the debt ceiling without Congressional approval.

The 14th Amendment reads: "validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."

The debt ceiling of $16.4 trillion is set to hit again on March 1, and a report last week found that it could actually be reached as early as Feb. 15.

So does the U.S. Constitution actually give President Obama the authority to raise the debt ceiling? Stuart Varney asked the question to Judge Andrew Napolitano on Fox Business Network this morning.

"Absolutely not," said Napolitano. "Because the Constitution itself says that only Congress can raise money, only Congress can spend money, and only Congress can borrow money. The president knows that. Every single president -- from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama -- when they want to raise money, goes to the Congress and gets permission for it."

Napolitano said the phrase of the Constitution cited by Pelosi and others is not being used in the right context.

"The 14th Amendment is one of the three post-Civil War amendments," he explained. "So in order for the seceding southern states to return to the union, they had to agree to adopt the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. The 14th Amendment says 'the public debt of the United States shall not be questioned,' because one of the debts that the federal government still had to pay after the Civil War was the debt incurred by fighting the Civil War. And who was going to pay that? The returning southern states, as well as the northern states. ... (The 14th Amendment) prevented (the southern states) from saying 'we're not going to pay.'"

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