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Can Congress Amend the Constitution?

“Emergency does not create power. Emergency does not increase granted power or remove or diminish the restrictions imposed upon power granted or reserved. The Constitution was adopted in a period of grave emergency. Its grants of power to the federal government and its limitations of the power of the States were determined in the light of emergency, and they are not altered by emergency.” — Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1948)

This week, the United States Senate will take a historic vote known as a negation, a statutory procedure whereby Congress nullifies an act of the president. The negation vote is authorized by the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which was written to permit the president to streamline government during an unforeseen crisis.

The act itself fails to define what constitutes an emergency, but the courts — as is their job where a law is ambiguous — have generally defined an emergency as a sudden and imminent threat to life, liberty

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Author
Andrew Napolitano
Judge Andrew P. Napolitano is the author of seven books on the U.S. Constitution, two of which have been New York Times best sellers. Judge Napolitano has been Fox News’ Senior Judicial Analyst since 1998 and he is nationally known for watching and reporting on the government as it takes liberty and property.