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View Diary: Senate returns to debate on how to cut Postal Service, not how to save it (71 comments)

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  •  IANAL (obviously) (0+ / 0-)

    I wonder if this has ever been adjudicated. The more I think about it, it seems likely that someone over the decades would have brought this question to the Federal courts in some guise (perhaps in an attempt to claim that Congress had to do "more" with one of its powers).

    It seems that throughout the Constitution, when a commandment is made that a branch must do something, it's worded directly in forms such as:

    The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.
    Perhaps a slightly more interesting example of "shall have power" type of wording in the Constitution is:
    The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
    Clearly this power only applies to the discrete situation of a vacancy occurring in well defined (at least as I imagine the Founders probably assumed) situations. However, when such a situation occurs, your interpretation would seem to require that the President make a recess appointment to fill the vacancy. I've never heard anyone contend that the President must do so and, in practice, they rarely do they do so.

    In the end, it probably doesn't make much difference as the Congress could just make a finding that there is no need for a geographically distributed Post Office. They could then declare that the "Post Office" shall consist entirely of a 7 foot x 10 foot room in the basement of the Capitol Building where people can meet to exchange mail as they see fit. Voilà, obligation met!

    </textualism>

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