Jack M. Balkin: “How to tell if you are in a constitutional crisis”

When people talk about constitutional crisis in the Trump Administration:         ‘A constitutional crisis occurs when there is a serious danger that the Constitution is about to fail at its central task. The central task of constitutions is to keep disagreement within the boundaries of ordinary politics rather than breaking down into anarchy, violence, or civil war.  To be sure, constitutions are also valuable because they protect civil liberties and divide and restrain power; but their first job is to keep the peace and make people struggle with each other within politics rather than outside of it.

When people are upset at what government officials have done, they often call these actions constitutional crises. However, most of these situations aren’t really constitutional crises, because there is no real danger that the Constitution is about to break down.  The vast majority of uses of the term “constitutional crisis” are hyperbole.’