March 12, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) led more than half of the members of the Senate Republican Conference today to introduce the Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of the Law (ENFORCE the Law) Act to ensure the president upholds his constitutional obligation to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” To read the bill, click here.
The ENFORCE the Law Act puts a procedure in place to permit Congress to authorize a lawsuit against the executive branch for failure to faithfully execute the laws. The legislation also provides for expedited consideration of any such lawsuit, first through a three-judge panel at the federal district court level and then by providing for direct appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It’s the president’s constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the law, and Americans are rightly concerned about executive overreach and dysfunction under the current administration,” Blunt said. “This bill restores the system of checks and balances and reiterates the importance of the Constitution’s curb on runaway executive branch power.”
The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H), John Barrasso (Wyo.), John Boozman (Ark.), Dan Coats (Ind.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), John Cornyn (Texas), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rand Paul (Ky.), John Thune (S.D.), Tim Scott (S.C.), David Vitter (La.), and Roger Wicker (Miss.).
U.S. Representatives Trey Gowdy (S.C.), Bob Goodlatte (Va.), and Darrell Issa (Calif.) introduced the House companion bill (H.R. 4138) on March 4, 2014. Missouri U.S. Representatives Ann Wagner and Jason Smith are also co-sponsors of the legislation.
Additional Background Information:
The ENFORCE the Law Act provides that if the president, or any other officer or employee of the United States, establishes or implements a formal or informal policy to refrain from enforcing any provision of federal law in violation of the requirement that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” the House or the Senate may, by adoption of a resolution, authorize a civil action to seek declaratory or injunctive relief. Any such lawsuit may be brought by the House of Representatives, the Senate, or both Houses of Congress jointly.
The bill also provides for expedited consideration of any case brought by Congress pursuant to the bill’s provisions. First, the bill provides that any such action shall be filed in a federal district court of competent jurisdiction and that the court shall convene a three-judge panel to hear the case. Second, the bill provides that the three-judge panel’s decision is appealable directly to the United States Supreme Court. Finally, the district courts and the Supreme Court are required to expedite any case filed pursuant to this legislation.
The bill is intended to address procedural hurdles the courts have put in front of previous attempts by individual Members of Congress, and ad hoc groups of Members, to seek judicial review of alleged failures by the president to faithfully execute the law. The courts have held that when Congress or one House of Congress suffers an institutional injury, the Congress or a House of Congress must authorize any lawsuit aimed at redressing the injury. This bill puts a procedure in place to allow for such authorization and expedites judicial review of such decisions to ensure decisions are made in a timely manner by the courts.
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