The Vice Presidential debate just ended, and there was a lot more “law” than one might have expected.
The best legal sparks flew over the Constitutional powers of the office of Vice President. Palin came out of the gate first when asked about her role as Vice President:
I’m thankful the Constitution would give a bit more authority to the Vice President if that Vice President chose to exert it in working with the Senate.
Biden said that he would be the “point person” for Obama’s legislative agenda with Congress.
But then both candidates were asked if they agreed with Dick Cheney’s contention that the Vice President was not solely governed under Article I. Palin said:
The Founding Fathers were very wise there in allowing to the Constitution much flexibility to the office of the Vice President … so I do agree with him.
Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American History … Article I defines the role of Vice President.
That sounds like a fairly large legal distinction.
Later, Biden returned to the Supreme Court in the context of things he has changed his mind on over the course of his career. When speaking about his criteria for confirming justices, Biden said:
It took me five years to realize that the ideology makes a huge difference … It matter what your judicial philosophy is and the American people deserve to know it.
He then went on to trumpet his objections to Robert Bork.
So, we know at least one VP candidate favors litmus tests. Palin acknowledged no moral issues which she has ever had to compromise on.
But one issue that will be really fun to some of the lawyers who have enough to work to do to still be on the job at this late hour, was Biden’s views on the bankruptcy courts. Biden wants to allow bankruptcy judges to not only re-adjust interest rates, “but also the principal that you owe.”
Palin said that she supported that as well. But she then went back to an unasked question about energy.
What did you guys think? We think that this VP power thing will be the dominant legal story coming out of tonight.