Capitol Report: Separation of Powers

Aug 01, 2014

This week the House of Representatives authorized a lawsuit against President Obama for his failure to faithfully execute laws passed by Congress. While the President has largely ignored the lawsuit and even called it a “stunt,” this is no joking matter. The lawsuit is needed to preserve the separation of powers clearly outlined in our Constitution. No person, not even the President of the United States, is above the law. This lawsuit is a check on the President’s disregard for laws enacted by Congress.

Article I of our Constitution gives the power of legislating to Congress. Article II says the President should “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” No part of the Constitution gives the President the authority to pick and choose which laws to enforce. To preserve the intent of our Founding Fathers and to ensure the balance of power in our republic, every President must be held accountable.

Our Founding Fathers had the wisdom to give law making powers exclusively to Congress. Writing laws requires debate. It requires listening to a variety of views and working to craft policy that incorporates the best ideas from each representative. In our government each member of Congress has the power to advocate for their constituents’ beliefs and concerns. When a majority of elected representatives agree on a piece of legislation it becomes law. Our Founding Fathers did not give the President authority in the Constitution to circumvent the lawmaking process and ignore elected representatives in the House and Senate.

The House’s lawsuit against the President follows a line of cases from the Supreme Court that put a check on the power of the presidency. In the most recent case, National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, all nine justices ruled that President Obama overstepped his power when he appointed officials to the board when the Senate was in recess. Two of the sitting justices who ruled against the President had been appointed by him.  In total, Obama’s administration has lost 20 cases unanimously in front of the Supreme Court.

When I took my oath of office and was sworn in to represent Missouri’s Eighth Congressional District in the House of Representatives, I promised to defend the Constitution. Like all other federal elected officials, I did not take an oath to my political party or individual ideology. My oath was to defend the Constitution. The House of Representatives’ lawsuit against President Obama is not about politics and it is not about ideology. This lawsuit is about protecting the Constitution and preserving the rule of law in our republic.