More on the Financial Meltdown and the Legal Response.

1. Why do people like me and Sandy Levinson keep talking about the Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt? Schmitt was skeptical that a parliamentary democracy can handle crises: it can only role over and let the executive act. You can read Levinson here (marred only by the pervasive tone of indignation: what exactly does he (realistically) expect?), or for a scarily timely scholarly treatment of Schmitt and our administrative state, see this paper by Adrian Vermeule.

2. The legalists in American law schools rage at the Bush administration for claiming constitutional authority to wage the war on terrorism rather than going to Congress but are indifferent when the Bush administration cites, as authority to address the current financial crisis, a statute enacted by Congress seventy years ago and a judge-made doctrine that permits agencies to interpret ambiguous statutes expansively. Is it really so difficult to see that these two cases are the same from the perspective of the rule-of-law values that the rule of law is supposed to advance: public debate and authorization of policy by a representative body for the purpose of addressing events that it is actually aware of? I say that you have to approve of both or neither.

3. Speaking of which, see the bill the Bush administration is pushing on Congress, and this analysis by David Zaring. Note the "without limitation" language and the stripping of judicial review. Whatever you think of Bush administration lawyers, one cannot deny that they've learned some lessons from the Supreme Court's reaction to their war-on-terror policies.