Our Founding Fathers knew that America needed a governing document stronger than the Articles of Confederation. Following Shays’ Rebellion, the framers crafted the Constitution, which is the safeguard of all our liberties.
One of the main tenants was the creation of three co-equal branches that would provide checks and balances on each other. However, after nearly two decades of having its political pendulum swing from one extreme to the other, America’s legislative branch, executive branch and judicial branch have fallen dangerously out of balance.
It’s becoming rarer for Democrats and Republicans in the legislative branch to stand up to the executive branch in a bipartisan way, but we do have modern examples.
In 2016, Congress overturned President Barack Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. This legislation allows families of the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia if it is found legally liable for helping support the terrorists who perpetrated the attack.
George W. Bush issued 12 vetoes during his presidency, four of which were overturned during his last two years in office. While both parties in Congress have expressed a need to rein in the executive branch, time and time again, politics and partisanship have undermined that goal.
Instead of working in a bipartisan manner to bolster Congress’ constitutional authority and rest power away from the executive branch, power which Congress has regrettably ceded over the years, the House Democratic Leadership is unintentionally weakening Congress through some of its recent actions.
You may remember earlier this month when the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 430, which authorizes House committee chairmen to initiate or intervene in federal judicial proceedings to enforce compliance with certain subpoenas, like those issued to Attorney General William Barr and former White House Counsel Donald McGahn.
Instead of working with Republicans to figure out how to return the balance of power between the branches of government, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is taking the easy way out by allowing partisan chairmen to go to court.
Let me be clear, if the House votes to hold a member of the executive branch in contempt and asks the judicial branch to use its power to enforce a Congressional subpoena, that is perfectly appropriate. What Speaker Pelosi is allowing committee chairmen to do, however, is ignore the legislative process in order to appease the radical left.
Instead of a vote in the House, committee chairmen are being empowered to go rogue and bring lawsuits against the advisors to the president and other members of the executive branch. Those chairmen don’t speak on behalf of the House, they speak on behalf of the liberal wing of their party, and for the Speaker of the House of Representatives to ask the courts to decide on legislative matters will only diminish Congress’ standing as a co-equal branch of government.
Of course, the legislative branch should serve as a check on the executive branch. But, Democrats’ actions are disadvantaging Congress by putting politics ahead of good policy. If the courts dismiss these partisan challenges by committee chairmen, it will diminish the Constitutional authority of Congress, and that will hurt the institution and the American people for generations.
Our Constitution should transcend politics, plain and simple. I believe in what our Founding Fathers believed: that Articles I, II, and III of the Constitution should remain equal no matter who is in office or what political party is in power.
Rob Woodall is a U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 7th congressional district.