The PJ Tatler

House Bill to Sue Obama Gets Its First Hearing

The House Rules Committee this morning began its examination of legislation to authorize a lawsuit against President Obama for executive overreach.

“Under President Obama, the executive branch has increasingly gone beyond the constraints of the Constitution. In fact, in a number of instances the president has gone beyond his Article II powers to enforce the law and has infringed upon the Article I powers of Congress to write the law,” Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said at the beginning of the hearing.

The committee called four constitutional law scholars to discuss the draft resolution and Obama’s actions.

“The text of the Constitution that we have sworn to defend provides separate powers for each branch of the federal government. Article I puts the power to legislate – to write the law – in the hands of Congress. Article II, on the other hand, requires that the president “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” Session said. “This difference is important. The Founders knew that giving one branch the power to both write and execute the law would be a direct threat to the liberties of the American people. They separated these powers between the branches in order to ensure that no one person could trample upon the rights of the people.”

“My fear is that our nation is currently facing the exact threat that the Constitution is designed to avoid. Branches of government have always attempted to exert their influence on the other branches, but this president has gone too far. Rather than faithfully executing the law as the Constitution requires, the president has instead selectively enforced the law in some instances, ignored the law in other instances, and, in a few cases, changed the law altogether, all without going through the required constitutional law making process.”

The top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), highlighted outside testimony from two constitutional law experts calling the lawsuit “meritless.”

“There is no standing and it is a bad idea for a Speaker to file such an embarrassing loser,” said Charles Tiefer of the University of Baltimore Law School.

Sessions argued that “it is important that we all acknowledge that this is not a political issue” and “not an issue that should pit Republicans against Democrats.”

“Any approach in which the President can ignore, selectively enforce, or unilaterally rewrite the law tilts the balance of power away from the legislature and toward the executive,” he said. “Presidential overreach also undermines the rule of law, which provides the predictability necessary to govern a functioning and fair society.”