I've avoided the topic of whether the 14th Amendment makes the statutory debt limit unconstitutional because I really didn't think it was likely that Barack Obama was likely to consider it as an option. However, it looks as if I was dead wrong about that one. Today's news that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is a 14th Amendmenter with regard to the debt limit, however -- and that he made a bit point of it way back in May -- changes things.
I agree with Stan Collender: this shows all the signs of White House intent to signal that a constitutional justification for overriding the debt limit is, at the very least, under active consideration. And I agree, too, with those who argue that the Republican Congressional leadership might not mind at all if they did so; it would get John Boehner out of the dilemma I've been pointing to, which is that sooner or later, before or after catastrophic consequences, he's going to have to vote to raise the debt limit. If the president simply declares that there is no limit, then Boehner gets to skip that vote, and more on to the much happier place of condemning the presidential lawlessness (although it doesn't end budget showdowns -- just puts it off until the threat of a government shutdown over the 2012 appropriations bills).
As far as what would happen...I see no reason to think that the president wouldn't get away with it. It's not clear who would have standing to (formally) complain, and at any rate the only way that the court could take meaningful action would have to involve an almost immediate injunction, right? In their HuffPo story, Ryan Grim and Samuel Haass point to the possibility of impeachment proceedings, but the truth is that Republicans have hardly been as trigger-happy on impeachment as some of us (myself certainly included) expected, so I wouldn't count on that. Regardless, an impeachment in the House followed by acquittal in the Senate would still leave the policy in place.
I'm not, yet, predicting that the administration will actually invoke the 14th and just ignore the debt limit, but it's now a very live possibility.
Oh -- if you're wondering who is "right" about what the Constitution means, then I'll send you to Jack Balkin's legislative history. But, really, what's a lot more important than the proper interpretation are the questions of what the president intends to do, and what remedies, if any, House Republicans might have.