Is It a Constitutional Crisis?

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Does the Bush administration’s astonishing assertion that Congress has no power to force a U.S. attorney to pursue contempt charges rise to the level of a constitutional crisis?

The answer, I believe, is that this is just the latest chapter in an ongoing constitutional crisis involving a rogue president who continues to insist that when he invokes executive privilege, inks a signing statement, unilaterally suspends a bedrock principle of the American legal system or violates an international treaty, he is accountable to no one. Ever.

         

54 Comments

  1. Pat, thanks for the lawyerly considerations. It seems to me you are saying that oversight of the entire Executive branch is unconstitutional; that they have every right to do the business of the people behind closed doors and refuse to tell anyone what they’re doing. And you appear to be OK with that. We the people can’t know what our government is doing, if it’s lying, how it’s making decisions, or if it’s breaking the law. Except we can ask “disgruntled former employees”, “lower ranking employees to whom privilege cannot reasonably be claimed” (really?) and from “appointees who are up for Senate confirmation.”

    So much for transparency and accountability.

  2. As compared to what, GD? The transparency and accountability of Congress in its off-the-floor activities? I haven’t heard you arguing that the DoJ has a right to demand transcripts of what Harry Reid discusses with his aides in the back office.

    There is no explicit Constitutional “oversight” authority in Congress over the other branches of government other than through the legislative function. Congress is not Lord over the executive or judicial branches, and cannot supersede their areas of Constitutional authority, nor their areas of statutory authority other than by changing the statutes using their own legislative powers. The other branches of government are separate and co-equal, not subordinate.

    It gives me a great chuckle to hear people whining about “above the law” when they don’t even seem to know what the law is, and when what they are championing is Congress putting itself above the law to bully the other branches of government for partisan political purposes.

    Such is the logic of Political Derangement Syndrome.

  3. OK, Tully, then you too are fine with a backroom government without oversight even when criminal activities are involved. Got it. Yeah. I’m some kind of radical “Political Derangement Syndrome” victim, apparently.

    Note to readers. Those who defend lying under oath are (obviously) not credible.

    Dictionaries define “oversight” as “watchful care,” and this approach has proven to be one of the most effective techniques that Congress has adopted to influence the executive branch. Congressional oversight prevents waste and fraud; protects civil liberties and individual rights; ensures executive compliance with the law; gathers information for making laws and educating the public; and evaluates executive performance. It applies to cabinet departments, executive agencies, regulatory commissions, and the presidency.
    Time and again, the oversight power of Congress has proven to be an essential check in monitoring the presidency and controlling public policy.
    State Department

  4. Green Dreams, can you read? Seriously. Would you kindly point out where anybody in this thread defended “lying under oath”?

    I certainly never said that Congressional oversight of the Executive Branch was “unconstitutional.” To the contrary, I was at great pains in many of my comments to point out the NUMEROUS ways in which Congress could exercise oversight of the Executive Branch, both by subpoenaed testimony and otherwise. The ONLY thing that I have said would be unconstitutional would be for the Congress, too craven to do its own dirty work, to try to control an Executive Branch official, forcing one of the President’s Constitutional subordinates to work for Congress rather than the President. That would indeed be unconstitutional. And I note that you decided not to actually address that particular issue, preferring to toss out some absurd strawmen and argue against them, instead.

    Since you chose not to argue that point, I presume you agree with it.

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