Prof. Wagner’s Corner

Prof. William Wagner, President and CEO – Salt & Light Global

William (@Prof.WWJD) serves as President of Salt & Light Global and Editor-in-Chief of SLG Witness. Together, he and his bride Marilyn home educated their children. Prof. Wagner holds the academic rank of Distinguished Professor Emeritus (Law and Constitutional Governance) where, as a tenured professor, he received the Beattie Award for Teaching Excellence. A frequent speaker at world conferences, Professor Wagner has a special interest in building and preserving environments where Christians may share the Good News of Jesus, free from persecution and oppression.

All material provided by author, who is solely responsible for the content.  May or may not include opinions of the Michigan Conservative Union (MCU).

Separation of Power and the President’s Emergency Declaration

February 20, 2019 by Prof. William Wagner

The budget deal signed by the President Friday only partially funded the President’s request for boarder security.  Although the deal prevented another government shutdown, it leaves many miles along the border unbuilt.  To fill the gaping holes, the President declared a national emergency. The President’s action raises serious separation of power questions. This week various state Attorney Generals challenged the President’s action in federal court.

Does the President’s executive authority include the power to declare the national emergency? To answer that question, check whether a provision of the Constitution, or statute enacted by Congress, authorizes the action. Moreover, before an unelected court addresses these issues, it first must determine whether it should even decide a political question that so deeply divides the nation.

Constitutional Authority

The American Constitution charges the President with protecting the nation’s boarders. Among the executive powers listed in Article II,  the President serves as “Commander in Chief of the armed forces.  Additionally, the President’s authority includes inherent executive power beyond the powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution. Here, the Constitution broadly provides that “[t]he  executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”

Thus, while  the Constitution expressly limits Congress’s authority to those listed powers “herein granted” in the Constitution,  it bestows, for better or worse, additional inherent power in the Presidency.

Constitution – The Rule of Law

Standing alone, both the Commander-in-Chief power and the inherent executive power of the presidency, arguably authorize the President’s emergency declaration.  Congress though, also provided statutory authority for a sitting President to declare a national emergency.

Congressional Authority

In 1972, Congress enacted the National Emergency Act. The law gives a President broad discretion to declare a national emergency. Whether Congress acted wisely when it ceded such wide-ranging authority to a President, is a different question than if they did. Congress did. The President holds, the

Read more here!

Confirm Kavanaugh

September 6, 2018Prof. William Wagner

Here is Prof. Wagner’s submission to the United States Senate supporting confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh:

United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary

224 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510-6050

Dear Senators:

My name is William Wagner and I serve as the President of the Great Lakes Justice Center, an organization dedicated to preserving the good governance under the Rule of Law. I hold the academic rank of Distinguished Professor Emeritus (Constitutional Law). Before joining academia, I served as a federal judge in the United States Courts, a Senior Assistant United States Attorney in the Department of Justice, and as a Legal Counsel in the United States Senate.    As to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court, I focus my remarks on his qualifications and his record concerning the Rule of Law.

Kavanaugh’s Qualifications

Judge Kavanaugh is eminently qualified to serve as a Supreme Court Justice.  After earning his undergraduate degree from Yale College, he attended Yale Law School.

After completing his education, Judge Kavanaugh worked as an attorney for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. Thereafter, he served under President George W. Bush at the White House. There he served as counsel and staff secretary. In 2006, the President nominated Kavanaugh to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The Senate confirmed.

Kavanaugh’s Record and the Rule of Law

My review of Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record shows that he understands the proper role of the judiciary in our constitutional republic. It also reflects that he understands of the proper jurisprudential approach to interpreting the Constitution (i.e., the Constitution is not a living document empowering judges to change it by adding rights with the ink in their pens).

In a recent speech, Kavanaugh affirmed that “a judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law.” His record further suggests he prioritizes the rule of law and precedent over his own personal views about policy.

In Heller v. District of Columbia,  Judge Kavanaugh dissented when the D.C. Circuit incorrectly upheld an ordinance banning most semi-automatic rifles. He argued that the Second Amendment included the right to own semi-automatic rifles. Kavanaugh wrote that “our task is to apply the Constitution and the precedents of the Supreme Court, regardless of whether the result is one we agree with as a matter of first principles or policy.” This highlights Kavanaugh’s qualifications to serve as a Supreme Court Justice; a good judge follows the rule of law, regardless of his personal views. Various other decisions written by Judge Kavanaugh further support a proper jurisprudential approach to constitutional interpretation. See Garza v. Hargan (on issues of abortion and immigration), Priests for Life v. HHS (on Obamacare’s contraceptive coverage mandate and religious-liberty), White Stallion Energy Center LLC v. EPA (on EPA regulations), Seven-Sky v. Holder (on Obamacare).

Upon his nomination, Kavanaugh stated that “a judge must interpret the constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.” This raises the question of whether he considers the Court’s precedents inventing a “right” of personal autonomy/ identity legitimate. Based on his jurisprudential position that judges interpret law, not create law, the answer is likely no. The answer to the question is important because the judicially-invented right serves as the Court’s justification for things like abortionhomosexual conduct, and same sex marriage.  If he finds the plain meaning of the Constitution requires states to determine policy matters like these, rather than an unelected imperial judiciary, he could help return the Rule of Law to a nation urgently in need of it.

Respectfully submitted,

//s William Wagner

Distinguished Professor Emeritus (Constitutional Law)

Click below for a PDF version of Prof. Wagner’s submission:

Senator Letter Kavanaugh (2)