Email #56, Subject: who wrote the Muslim ban?

I just read that top staffers on your House Judiciary Committee drafted the President’s executive order for the Muslim ban. Since your Committee is in charge of immigration policy in the House, such coordination is on principle appropriate. Indeed, it is the President’s lack of consultation with other key government agencies that has added to the unnecessary chaos.

However, I also read that the White House did not coordinate with you personally. Is this true? You are the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Did your own staffers not inform you that they were taking orders from the White House? Did they not consult with their own Chair while drafting the executive order? Is it true that they instead coordinated only with the President’s nominee for Attorney General? Were you not even informed about what was happening? How is this possible? How can you have no authority over your own Committee?

You said “checking executive overreach” was one of your top priorities. And now the executive branch has commandeered your own staff who kept you ignorant of their controversial work. You are an elected member of Congress. Your staffers are not. Their job is to support Congress. At minimum they are supposed to be taking their orders from you and other members of the legislative branch, not from the executive branch. You assured me in a previous letter that there was no danger of President Trump abusing his authority because the Constitution divided power between the three branches of government. This division appears to have already broken down. One of the most influential Congressional committees is working directly for the White House while leaving their supposed boss completely out of the loop.

Even if you agree with the ban itself, the process behind it violates the principles of the Constitution that you have sworn to uphold. It is your duty as an elected Representative to act against this violation. You cannot put your personal policy preferences ahead of the Constitutional process itself.

Chris Gavaler

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Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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