In this week’s episode of Supergirl Radio, Morgan Glennon and Rebecca Johnson discuss the Supergirl season four episode titled “Stand and Deliver”!
Official Description by The CW for Supergirl 4.14: “Between Ben Lockwood’s new push to stir up the anti-alien movement and The Elite’s desire to target Lockwood and his minions, Supergirl is concerned about the safety of the American people – both human and alien. When Lockwood organizes a rally, the aliens decide to peacefully protest. Brainiac and J’onn join the alien march while Supergirl and Dreamer patrol to keep everyone safe. Meanwhile, James picks up his camera again to cover the march for CatCo, Hayley assigns Alex a job that clashes with her beliefs. When The Elite and Ben Lockwood stir up trouble at the rally, Supergirl is forced to take a stand. Jonathan Bennett guest stars. Guest Stars include April Parker Jones (Colonel Lauren Haley), David Ajala (Manchester Black), Jessica Meraz (Pamela Ferrer/Menagerie), Louis Ozawa Changchien (Hat), Andrea Brooks (Eve Teschmacher), Jonathan Bennett (Quentin), Paul Almeida (Cracked Mask Child of Liberty), Adam Ballantyne (Child of Liberty #1), Stephanie Cho (Alien Mother), Arran Henn (TV Talking Head), Sean Hewlett (Franklin), Madeleine Kelders (Reporter #1), Ariah Lee (Alien Girl), Jaymee Mak (Mackenzie), and Shawn Stewart (Muscular Alien).”
Supergirl stars Melissa Benoist (Kara Danvers/Supergirl), Chyler Leigh (Alex Danvers), Mehcad Brooks (James Olsen), David Harewood (J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter), Jesse Rath (Querl Dox/Brainiac-5), Katie McGrath (Lena Luthor), Nicole Maines (Nia Nal), and Sam Witwer (Ben Lockwood). WRITTEN BY: Rob Wright and Jess Kardos. DIRECTED BY: Andi Armaganian.
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As an Australian I am not well versed in the precise mechanics of how the US Government works.
However I do feel I have a pretty good handle on how politics work in general. By the way I googled constitutional republics a few weeks ago and found a website that classed Australia as one as well as the USA. I suppose for most practical purposes we operate like one but our head of state is still technically the Queen of England. Also I can’t find that site now so maybe I misread it.
I intend to mount a defence of a couple of the things in this episode that your podcast covered but first I’d like to ask a question for clarification.
That being, in the history of executive orders are they given names or titles and do those names/titles ever include the word “Act”?
I would argue that the Alien Amnesty Act spoken of in this episode was in fact a Congressional Act and not an executive order.
The only evidence I have for that is the fact that Kara said as much when she asked if Ben Lockwood and the President had the power to repeal the Alien Amnesty Act.
This is the point where I start to surmise facts not in evidence but that seem the most logical conclusion based on the information available.
I would suggest that the Alien Amnesty Act was a legislative agenda that President Marsdin pushed through Congress sometime in the approximately two years between “Welcome to Earth” and the beginning of season 4.
At the time of “Welcome to Earth” when the President announced the Alien Amnesty Act it may have still been being debated in Congress and so she enacted a temporary executive order to operate until such time as the legislation was passed.
Rebecca, you would likely know better than I whether or not that sounds like a plausible sequence of events. I’m not intimately familiar with US politics so the nearest equivalent in recent history I can think of is Obama’s Affordable Care Act. That is an act that was passed through Congress that was conceived and endorsed by a sitting President pursuing a legislative agenda. As opposed to legislation passed by Congress that the President might endorse but did not originate with the President.
Now assuming the Amnesty was in fact a Congressional Act then I would further suggest that what Ben Lockwood was announcing at the press conference was an agenda to have the act repealed rather than a fait accomplit.
What I think happened was that Ben and the President thought they had the votes in Congress to get the Act repealed and then public opinion shifted and some of the members of Congress who were going to vote for the repeal of the Act withdrew their support.
The other thing I thought I’d mention is the topic of James and Guardian. This is me reading between the lines here, but I think that James feels like his Guardian identity has been tainted by being assosciated with the Children of Liberty. So he has backed away from that side of things for a bit.
I would guess that he is worried about his actions as Guardian being misrepresented as they were before by Ben Lockwood and so has shifted his focus back to reporting to try and make a difference. If he learned anything from that experience it is that people can spin things anyway they want and so it is more important than ever for him to focus on presenting the truth to the world through his journalism and of course photography.
Of course he’s biased and not a 100% objective but he strives for accuracy. I wouldn’t even hold the fact that he killed the Lena black budget story the first time around against him. He knows Superman and Supergirl’s secret identities but doesn’t publish them. Nor does he publish the fact that the DEO a black-ops government organisation that handles alien affairs exists. I’m pretty sure they DEO must be a black budget operation otherwise it wouldn’t be a secret organisation.
If we’re going to hold protecting Lena’s secrets against him then what about everyone else’s secrets he’s been protecting?
This is about when you were talking about the alien amnesty act. First, Ben Lockwood probably could try to repeal the act because the president broke the law by being an alien and so her whole presidency could be argued as unconstitutional. Second, because Ben Lockwood is part of the president’s cabinet, he is supposed to advise the president on his expertise, so Lockwood could be advising the president to repeal the act. Third, in the last couple of episode it kind of shows Been Lockwood controlling the president in a way, so he could make him change his mind on the act and repeal it all together.
Typically in our real world, Executive Orders don’t have fancy names. You can go to the White House website and look at how they are named: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/
You’re right in that Congressional Acts will have catchier names like the Affordable Care Act, but I chalk that up to the show’s writers not really understanding how all of that works. Plus, on a TV show, it’s a much more interesting and succinct title than a real Executive Order would have. Makes it easier to consume for TV viewers.
What Kara said in 4×14 absolutely contradicts what she said in 2×03 in which Supergirl calls it an Executive Order. You can even see that it’s a Presidential proclamation in “Welcome to Earth”: http://genrecaps.net/supergirl/displayimage.php?pid=56951&fullsize=1
As far as I know, a President wouldn’t sign a temporary Executive Order to wait on Congress to pass a bill into law. That’s just not how things work. Either the POTUS allows the process to happen through Congress or he/she would sign an Executive Order to bypass Congress altogether. Congress passes bills into law and if the President likes the bill, he/she would sign it. If the POTUS does not like it, he/she has the power to veto. That’s an entirely different process than an Executive Order in which the POTUS can bypass Congress entirely.
We’ll have more clarification on this Executive Order issue in our episode on 4×15 this week because we received some great emails on the topic.
Your point on James feeling that Guardian has been tainted by the Children of Liberty is a good one! You also bring up a fair point about James’ journalistic integrity. Though, I do think it’s worth noting that James was willing to hide L-Corp shenanigans while he was dating Lena, but once they broke up, he was willing to look into it. Seems petty, honestly.
Thanks for leaving a comment and sharing your thoughts!
It’s true that we don’t know how the government would handle the Executive Order, given President Marsdin’s true identity and the fact that she wasn’t born as an American citizen (which is unconstitutional). We have no precedent for that!
But, if we they were to treat President Marsdin as an American President, I imagine that they would treat the Executive Order as they would all Executive Orders, meaning that a Congressional Repeal would not be the way to go about it. Congress CANNOT repeal Executive Orders and only a new Executive Order from the next POTUS (President Baker) could rescind Marsdin’s Alien Amnesty Act. And even further, Ben Lockwood is not a member of Congress so he can’t do anything, anyway!
I do think you could be right in that Lockwood could be speaking into the ear of the President and convincing him of how to handle alien matters. That’s part of his new job in the Administration so that would make sense that he would advice President Baker on these matters.
Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts, Jack!
This discussion has led me to wonder what exactly are the limits on Presdential Executive Orders? I know that Executive Orders can be overturned if they are un-Constitutional. I remember seeing reports of some of President Trump’s early Travel Ban Executive Orders being challenged in court and having to be re-worded in order to be upheld.
I just wondered if an Executive Order can be used to override laws that aren’t part of the Constitution – such as a Congressional Act?
There are two reasons I thought it might have made sense for President Marsdin to enact a temporary Amnesty via Executive Order until such time as a Congressional Act was passed.
The first was to put an immediate stop to the rounding up and indefinite detention of aliens currently residing in the United States. Otherwise until such time as an Amnesty Act had passed through Congress aliens would continue to be hounded by the authorities.
The second reason is that I thought that a Congressional Act would be a preferable long-term option over an Executive Order. So that it would be harder to get rid of when the next President who was anti-alien came along.
Of course if a President can over-ride a Congressional Act via Executive order then my whole line of reasoning is moot.
I suppose at the end of the day the question is this – In the Supergirl universe at the present time is there a Congressional Alien Amnesty Act? I would say that Kara’s dialogue in this episode seemed to indicate there is.
You could argue that she was mistaken or misspoke. However nothing in this episode seems to contradict what she said. Also Executive Orders cannot be repealed but Congressional Acts can. With the repeal of the Act repeatedly being referred to in this episode.
It is also true that two years ago the Alien Amnesty Act was a Presidential Proclamation/Exceutive Order.
When it comes to a work of fiction you can’t “prove” things like this one way or the other. It comes down to what you choose to believe. In some cases the writers will be asked questions about things like this and clarify them. However until such time as those answers from the writers are depicted in the show itself you can choose whether or not to accept them as canon.
The President has the power to veto a bill, but as far as I know, he doesn’t have the power to override what Congress has already put into law. That’s what the veto is for.
I agree that passing something into law via Congress is a better option than an Executive Order because it has more staying power.
If there is a Congressional Alien Amnesty Act in the Supergirl universe, then the show has contradicted itself and a retcon from Season 2 is in effect. Because in “Welcome to Earth”, SUPERGIRL says that the Alien Amnesty Act is an Executive Order. To say otherwise now, is the show forgetting or disregarding its own continuity.
You know it may sound like I completely disagree with you but I actually think you could be absolutely correct.
I’m just suggesting an alternate interpretation based on what the show has given us.
For example if I make two the following two statements do they invalidate each other:
Statement 1: Hal Jordan is a Green Lantern
Statement 2: John Stewart is a Green Lantern
Both statements are valid because there can be more than one Green Lantern.
Now how about these two statements:
Statement 1: The Alien Amnesty Act is an Executive Order
Statement 2: The Alien Amnesty Act is a Congressional Act.
My suggestion is that both of these statements can be true, particularly when you factor in a two year time gap between the first statement and the second statement.
I think you are probably right in that the writers dropped the ball and didn’t even realise the Amnesty Act was originally an Executive Order.
Just to be a little nit-picky I think there is a difference between something happening off-screen and a retcon. An example of a retcon would be to say that the Alien Amnesty Act was never an Executive Order but rather a Congressional Act all along. Whereas saying that sometime in the last two years the Alien Amnesty Act passed through Congress off-screen would not contradict established continuity.
Statement 1 and Statement 2 about the Executive Order contradict each other while your examples about Green Lantern do not.
I think the way the show talked about the Alien Amnesty Act is a retcon (although, it sort of seems like it’s unintentional because they forgot about it). The show is now telling us that it was a Congressional Act even though, it was initially introduced as an Executive Order.
For more information on this, listen to our discussion of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”. We have feedback from ladies who know have legal expertise in this area and go into a lot of detail on this issue. Hopefully, they help explain it better than we did!