Nope. Or at least, I have as much authority in saying that, as the bloggers and pundits who claim otherwise. Here’s what the relevant section from the Fourteenth Amendment says:
Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Remember, the Fourtheenth Amendment was adopted in 1868 as part of Reconstruction. Here’s the context to help understand Section 4:
Section 4 confirmed the legitimacy of all U.S. public debt appropriated by the Congress. It also confirmed that neither the United States nor any state would pay for the loss of slaves or debts that had been incurred by the Confederacy. For example, during the Civil War several British and French banks had lent large sums of money to the Confederacy to support its war against the Union.
So when the 14th Amendment says the “validity of the public debt of the United States…shall not be questioned,” it means, for example, that people in South Carolina couldn’t object and say, “Hey, why the heck should South Carolina have to pay taxes to the federal government, in order to redeem bonds that were issued in order to kill our people? That’s crazy.”
The 14th Amendment is not saying, “If for some reason the federal government defaults on its outstanding bonds, this violates the Constitution.”
I mean think about it for a second: There could be an economic calamity making it impossible for the government to pay off its bondholders, regardless of political will. So how can that possibly be an unconstitutional outcome?
Also, I find it a little suspicious that most (not all) of the people I see bringing up the 14th Amendment on the debt ceiling, just about never mention the Constitution anywhere else in their writings. And they’re not even doing it as a mere accusation of hypocrisy against the Tea Party: No, I’ve seen bloggers who have no problem with the federal government regulating microwave “standby modes” but drape themselves in the Constitution when there’s a chance that something will interfere with the Treasury’s ability to go another trillion dollars deeper in debt.
(For the opposite view, go and read more in the Wikipedia article in that section, you’ll see some people–like Bruce Bartlett–being cited as authorities for why it may be unconstitutional to interfere with the issuing of Treasury debt. And there’s also the 1935 Supreme Court case of Perry vs. U.S. that, according to the Wikipedia article, says the Congress doesn’t have the authority to cancel a federal bond. But I think Bartlett is just plain wrong, in light of my arguments above, and I don’t see how the 1935 Supreme Court case is doing what the Wikipedia writer claims. But anyway, you don’t need Congress to declare an existing federal Treasury bond void in order for my position on the debt ceiling to go through.)