Powerline and Dictators
Now that he's finally read the case, John, to everyone's great shock, has concluded that it does not support the view that Bush acted illegally when he ordered eavesdropping which Congress expressly prohibited by law. John claims that the situation in Youngstown could not be any more irrelevant to the current NSA eavesdropping scandal because Truman in Youngstown, unlike Bush here, was so plainly overstepping his bounds by attempting to seize steel factories in the face of Congressional opposition -- the case was such an "easy" one -- that, according to John, the "remarkable fact about Youngstown is that three justices dissented."
This is so, says John, for this reason:
That holding seems clearly correct; if a President's constitutional powers allowed him to formulate and carry out domestic policy, including the seizure of private property, by executive order, then the President really would be a dictator.
So if, as John argues, a President who carries out domestic policy in the absence of Congressional intent would be a "dictator," what would a President be who eavesdrops with no warrant on the telephone calls of American citizens while they are in the United States, even though an act of Congress makes it a crime to do so?
Truman's conduct was not expressly prohibited by Congress; Congress simply refused to give him seizure authority. By obvious contrast, Congress did not merely remain silent with regard to Bush's warrantless eavesdropping. It expressly made it a criminal offense to do that. And Bush did it anyway. It therefore defies basic rationality to call Truman a would-be "dictator" for doing something which Congress did not prohibit, while still defending George Bush's conduct here which was undertaken in defiance of Congressional law.