What do regulating puddles, attempting to ban popular ammunition, and making recess appointments have in common? They are all examples of attempts by President Obama to overstep his power and bypass Congress. But these are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the pattern of overreach we have seen from the Executive Branch in recent years.
With our immigration laws we’ve seen some of the most egregious abuses of power. In November 2014, President Obama announced that he would act unilaterally to change our laws and shield five million unlawful immigrants from immigration enforcement. Shortly thereafter, a majority of states – led by Texas – filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging President Obama’s executive overreach on immigration. Late last year, a federal appeals court prevented these unilateral actions from being implemented. Now, following an announcement earlier this year, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear this constitutional challenge to the President’s immigration plan.
It’s a slippery slope. The people’s duly elected representatives in Congress cannot sit silent as the Executive Branch continues to overstep its constitutional authority. In an effort to push back against this overreach, for the first time ever, the House of Representatives passed a resolution last week authorizing the Speaker of the House to file an amicus brief on behalf of the whole House defending Congress’ constitutional powers granted in Article I to write our nation’s laws. This brief is not just a collection of signatures. It represents a vote and the will of the House to urge the Supreme Court to consider our well-founded concerns.
Without enforcement of the law, there cannot be accountability under law, and political accountability is essential to a functioning democracy. The resolution passed by the House aims to help deliver a simple message: Congress writes the laws, and the President enforces them. Our own constitutionally-required oath to support the Constitution of the United States requires no less. By voicing our support for the states’ lawsuit against the President’s power grabs, the House is acting to protect Congress’ constitutional powers and defend freedoms for future generations. The stakes of inaction are high. We must protect the people’s rights, we must protect the people’s House, and we must protect the Constitution of the United States.
Bob Goodlatte represents the Sixth District of Virginia in Congress.