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10/10/2020

John McGinnis on the Vice President's Tie-breaking Vote
Michael Ramsey

At Law & Liberty, John McGinnis: Laurence Tribe Gets the VP’s Vote Wrong.  From the introduction:

Those opposed to putting Amy Barrett on the Supreme Court are making legal arguments to thwart her confirmation that are so unsound that they show the need for more justices like her. Exhibit A is an essay by Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, arguing that if the Senate is tied 50-50, Vice President Pence cannot as a matter of constitutional law cast the decisive vote. The nomination is so closely contested that if his view were accurate, it could be the difference between confirmation and rejection.

Tribe is the most famous constitutional law professor of his generation, educating thousands of students at Harvard Law School on how to interpret the Constitution. But if this article is an indication of what he has taught, a constitution construed by his acolytes will go down the memory hole, to be replaced by a fundamental law that is shaped to meet the demands of the left-liberal moment. The influence of law professors like him on generations of law students shows why it is all the more necessary to confirm justices to the Supreme Court who will help create a legal culture in which the Constitution is read according to its text as originally understood.

The most relevant text in this case is obvious and clear: “The Vice President . . . shall be the President of the Senate but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.” Professor Tribe never actually quotes this language, no doubt because it is hard to deny what any reasonable reader would believe it means: The Vice President has the authority to break ties whenever the Senate is equally divided.

Agreed.  One might say, though, that he is a little late to the party.