Legislation

Letter | Law to give Congress power to sue President ‘waste of time’

March 26, 2014 

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U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, and others, are seeking legislation to enable Congress to compel President Obama to enforce certain laws that they think he has failed to do.

In case the recent op-ed column by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post was missed by local readers, permit me to cover some of his salient points.

The gist of his piece was to expound on the belief that “the courts” have been reluctant to exercise their constitutionally conferred power, i.e. to check the president's overreach, at least according to Rep. Bob Goodlatte, (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Also, that there seems to be a desire of some on the far right for activist judges in cases of president's overreach.

It has been the longstanding Republican position that judges should follow the law and not actively change the law or champion expansion. Milbank quotes our Rep. Rice as accusing Pres. Obama “of trampling our Constitution and our very freedom.” Milbank goes on to say that Goodlatte called law professor Elizabeth Foley presumably to bolster and support his position. Well, guess what? Ms. Foley had previously written that “Congress probably can't sue the President...The Supreme Court has severely restricted so-called Congressional standing, creating a presumption against allowing members of Congress to sue the President merely because he fails to fully execute its laws.”

The reason for the lack of standing is because the courts have adjudged that there has to be a sufficiently concrete injury to permit standing.

With that background, we have Rep. Rice proudly telling us that he, along with 118 others, is going to put a stop to this president's “overreaching.” How? Well by passage of House Resolution 442 that, when passed, will allow the House to sue the President. Just think of the opportunities for abuse as Rice argues for such power. Just what the country needs, more acrimonious conflicts between the branches of government.

This effort appears to be: a big waste of time; explosively divisive; expensive; wholly unlikely to pass; a very weak position to take, only being to pander to the far right; yet another example of why the Congress can show so little accomplishment; and another Republican effort to attack President Obama by any means.

Interesting to note, H.R. 442 is listed as legislation to “end congressional revolving door” on opencongress.org and govtrack.us web sites.

The writer lives in Pawleys Island

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