- The Washington Times - Friday, April 22, 2016

A federal appeals court tossed out a challenge to the federal debt limit, ruling Friday that the lawyer who brought the lawsuit couldn’t show he was personally harmed by the law limiting the size of the federal debt.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit did not rule on whether the debt law itself is legal.

Victor K. Williams, the man challenging the debt limit, says he holds Treasury Department bonds, bills and notes, and he said their value has suffered because of the repeated debt fights Congress and President Obama have had in recent years. Mr. Williams said they will suffer again if there’s another battle, and he asked the judges to rule the debt limit itself unconstitutional.

The three-judge appeals panel, though, said predicting future problems was speculative, and not enough to show he suffers an individual harm. Besides, congressional Republicans agreed last year to suspend the debt limit, giving Mr. Obama free hand to spend.

“Unfortunately for Williams, his claims of future injuries are entirely conjectural,” wrote Senior Judge David B. Sentelle.

Mr. Williams, a clinical professor of law at Catholic University who runs the website disruptivejustice.org, said the ruling does leave open the chance to challenge the debt limit during the next impasse.

The debt limit was enacted early in the last century as a way for Congress to set an outer bound on how much debt the federal government could hold. Raising the limit has become a troublesome political fight in recent decades, and has been particularly thorny under Mr. Obama.

Congressional Republicans insisted they’d accept no debt limit increase unless the president agreed to spending cuts — and in 2011, they won a major battle, getting Mr. Obama to agree to a dollar of future cuts in exchange for every new dollar of instant debt room.

But while the debt materialized, the cuts have been only partially successful, and indeed Congress has repeatedly voted to break the limits they set on themselves.

Congressional Democrats, backed by some legal scholars, question whether the debt limit itself is legal, saying it could violate the Constitution’s 14th Amendment admonition that “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.”

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