The history of the debt ceiling traces back to a law passed in 1917 placing a limit on the dollar amount of Liberty bonds that could be sold to finance World War I. The language is very specific. Obviously, we are no longer issuing Liberty bonds to finance World War I so what legal basis is there for this law in the changed world of today?
While Congress has full control of the expenditures of the United States in the form of the appropriation measures it passes it also must abide by the provisions of the 14th Amendment that says, in part:
Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, ... shall not be questioned. ...
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
What does "shall not be questioned" mean? To me it would mean that Congress cannot take measures that place the public debt of the United States in default and that Congress has the power to enforce that that event never takes place and not the other way around.
It just makes me wonder why the 1917 law has not been challenged in the courts for these many decades when the basis looks so weak. Any Constitutional lawyers out there?