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Rule by Emergency Powers

By Liza Goitein

The history of tyranny is the history of emergency powers. Perhaps the most infamous example is Adolf Hitler’s invocation of emergency powers to dissolve the German legislature and destroy the German Republic.

I want to thank my good friend and salon member Tim Wirth for sounding the emergency powers alarm in the United States. Tim collaborated with my college classmate Joel McCleary and Mark Medish and Gary Hart to found the nonprofit “Keep Our Republic”. Keep Our Republic shares the Committee’s alarm over the limitless power that crowns the office of the President greater than the provocation for the American Revolution. We welcome Tim, Joel and Mark tonight.

Committee members have participated in dozens of salons during our seemingly permanent 9/11 legal state of emergency in which the President wages perpetual war against international terrorism playing prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner to kill any person on the planet. Trump bombed Syria twice during his administration without congressional authority in violation of the Constitution’s declare war clause. It only took Joe Biden 31 days as President to follow in Trump’s unconstitutional footsteps.

Tonight’s salon spotlights the emergency powers our imperial presidency exercises at home. Whether at home or abroad, emergency powers spring from congressional abdication. Keep Our Republic and the Committee for the Republic agree that repealing unconstitutional delegations of emergency powers must be a top priority for the 117th Congress.

Tonight welcome America’s leading legal scholar on emergency powers. Liza Goitein is the co-director of the Brennan Center at New York University Law School. Liza isn’t intimidated by uncharted waters. She is expert on the paradigm-of-all emergency powers statutes — the open-ended National Emergency Act. Liza will tell us how we can step back from the precipice of rule by executive decree. Without further ado, join me in welcoming Liza.