As the federal government once again approaches the debt ceiling, partisans are again pulling out the heavy artillery: Don’t bother negotiating with Republicans on taxes and spending, they tell the President, just declare the debt ceiling in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and ignore it.
As a matter of law, that gambit is just as wrongheaded as it was when this came up last year. As Heritage explained at the time:
Section four of the Fourteenth Amendment provides, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”
This clause simply means that Congress and the President cannot question the validity of debt that is already incurred, but it in no way requires the nation to incur more debt. Even if it precludes temporary default—which is far from clear—it could not authorize the President to incur additional debt.