The Emancipation Proclamation . . . in 2016

Suppose Lincoln made the Emancipation Proclamation in today’s political climate. Would it be challenged by the opposing party, as overstepping his executive privilege? Would it be called unconstitutional, without congressional approval?

Well to be honest Lincoln pretty much ruled as a dictator especially during the early times. He had to to get the Union ready for total war and to root out the pro confederates in the government.

It’s important to understand the legal context of the Emancipation Proclamation. He only freed those slaves which were in states currently in rebellion. This was an extension of his powers as Commander-in-Chief since any property captured by the military was covered as a spoil of war and the military was free to do whatever they wanted to with captured property. It did nothing for the slaves in states that were currently not in rebellion which required congress and the states to act to create an amendment to the constitution.

Probably. The Democrats, more than ever in my memory, seem unable to accept anything a Republican comes up with. The Republicans maybe a little less knee-jerk against Democrats but still firmly enough to stifle some good ideas.


People would be pretty confused about a dead guy who thinks he president issuing a proclamation to free slaves who have all died also.

Or… we are assuming that slavery is still legal in the US in the 21st century and somehow a man rooted in the mindset of the mid 19th century is now president (actually that one doesn’t seem that unlikely based on the current election cycle). Is the Democratic Party still the party of slavery? What was the GOP based on before if not the Party of Lincoln, or did they recently emerge as the northern states got fed up with what must be the enduring shame of legal slavery in this country? Does he have only half a congress to deal with? What kind of civil war would result in the 21st century? The original produced a river of blood and broken lives, what’s this one going to look like?

Anyway, the answer is this: Everything will turn out pretty much the same. Politicians are the greedy, selfish, stupid lot now that they were back then. Lincoln gets his way amid some noise relegated to the footnotes of history.

If Alabama’s Justice Moore goes much farther in personally abridging the Supreme Court’s ruling on Gay Marriage, Obama might be able to issue a large-scale decree imposing Federal oversight of Alabama’s marriage-license issuance policy.

But…he doesn’t have to, because the courts can handle it on their own. If Alabama is too obstreperous, the Federal courts will step in and overrule them.

So…yeah, the President could issue a decree, but he has no need to.

It also exempted large parts of those rebellious states that were already under direct Union control. It stands out as a seminal document, but it actually freed only a fraction of the slaves in the US (Confederacy + Union) at the time.

My point is that it was well within the powers of the president.