Email #247: “uphold our constitutional framework”?

I wrote to you previously about the EPA’s attempt to delay implementing a regulation for two years, a delay which a court struck down as unlawful because the delay violates the regulation development process. I now read that other agencies in the executive branch are acting similarly.

The Labor Department has delayed a rule requiring financial advisers to put consumers’ interests before their own, and the Food and Drug Administration has delayed a rule requiring restaurants to list calories on their menus.

The Interior Department also issued a two-year delay on rules limiting methane in wells. The GOP-controlled Senate had attempted to revoke the law requiring the regulation, but three Republican Senators joined Democrats to preserve it. That means the Interior Department’s delay is a way for the GOP-controlled executive branch to change the law without Congress.

Although you said the morning after your re-election that you “will work hard checking executive overreach,” you have not responded to the Trump administration’s overreaching abuse of these delays. You also said in May: “I take Congress’s role to uphold our constitutional framework of three co-equal branches of government very seriously. Congress and the American public should not and cannot allow one branch to assume too much authority without a challenge from the other branches of government.”

Why then are you not challenging the executive branch now? I realize you might personally agree with the individual policies that the delays support, but that does not excuse you from carrying out your duties as chair of the House Judiciary Committee. If anything, it raises the ethical bar. A failure to check the executive branch now reveals your earlier statements to be false. Did your concern for the Constitution stop when a Republican entered the White House?

Although my continuing research into your actions and inaction reveal startlingly consistent hypocrisy, I would still like to believe that at some point you will recognize the damage you are doing to the principles that you claim to uphold. I would like to believe that you are guided by more than political expediency. I would like to believe that you are an American before you are a Republican.

Opposing executive delays of legislative laws is an opportunity for you to define yourself in your own conservative terms and not as a Trump administration yes-man. Doing so now would also establish your credibility later when you are faced with far more serious choices regarding the President’s future in the White House.

Email #142: “drastic implications for our Republic”?

On January 25, President Trump signed an executive order that empowered “State and local law enforcement agencies across the country to perform the functions of an immigration officer” and declared that “jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply … are not eligible to receive Federal grants.”In short, any place that doesn’t spend its resources enforcing immigration laws loses its federal funding.

But, as you know, only Congress can place those kinds of conditions on federal dollars, and so on Tuesday, Judge William H. Orrick ruled that the President was overstepping his powers and blocked his executive order. San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera responded:

“This is why we have courts — to halt the overreach of a president and an attorney general who either don’t understand the Constitution or chose to ignore it.”

Although you dislike so-called Sanctuary Cities like San Francisco, you must still be pleased with the judge’s ruling. As you have pointed out many times in your own statements:

“Our constitutional system of three co-equal branches of government and a Bill of Rights therefore prevent one branch from assuming too much authority without a challenge from the other branches of government.”

As chair of the House Judiciary Committee, that responsibility of challenging the executive branch falls on you. You were vigilant about it in the past. You wrote in April 2016 in response to the Supreme Court case challenging President Obama’s executive actions on immigration:

“The case … is fundamentally about preserving the separation of powers and its outcome will have drastic implications for our Republic…. he does not have the authority to change our nation’s immigration laws on his own. I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will stop President Obama’s lawlessness so that we protect the Constitution and the intent of the Founding Fathers that the legislative branch, which reflects the will of and is accountable to the American people, makes the laws, not the President.”

Since Donald Trump became President, however, you seem unconcerned about such “lawlessness.” I assume this is because the President is also the leader of the Republican party, and so you are in the difficult position of having to challenge your own boss.

Alternatively, your criticisms of Obama were never principled: you were only using the Constitution as a prop to feign outrage and score political points. In which case your failure to hold the executive branch accountable now is consistent: you prioritize your duties to your party over your duties to your country.

Fortunately, Judge Orrick has stepped in and done your job for you.