The Washington Post

Necessary powers


Elizabeth Goitein’s central principle in her Sept. 2 Friday Opinion essay, “The dangerousl­y slippery slope of ‘emergency powers,’ ” was unassailab­le. Emergency powers are highly risky for democracy, should always be sparingly used and should never be used to accomplish non-emergency purposes. However, it is less clear that climate change, abortion access and gun control are areas where “emergency powers are not the answer.”

Surely, emergency powers are needed precisely where delay and failure to act now will render ineffectiv­e future action on long-term policy problems. This is clear in the case of climate change. Though less clear-cut, there is also a cogent argument that catastroph­ic immediate consequenc­es for many women’s health or uncontroll­ed gun violence — with military-grade weapons — among civilians are as urgent.

It is not so much that Congress has evinced a considered disagreeme­nt with addressing these crises. It has simply been institutio­nally disabled or obstructiv­e.

Amit A. Pandya, Silver Spring

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