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Congress can restore proper balance among branches of government

Jessica Knight [staff member, The Constitution Project]: "The [US] Senate Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing on restoring the rule of law [webcast] to its rightful, central place in our system of government. It focused on the U.S. Constitution as the cornerstone document that supports all other laws, and the need for Congress to actively push back against the Executive branch in order to maintain the constitutional doctrine of separated powers.

In his testimony, former congressman Mickey Edwards (R-OK) urged Congress to do more to prevent executive overreach. Citing signing statements, the state secrets privilege, and warrantless wiretapping, Representative Edwards addressed the Legislative branch, saying: "You are not a parliament; you are a Congress — separate, independent, and equal. And because of that you are the principal means by which the people maintain control of their government. Defend that right, and that obligation, or you lose all purpose in holding these high offices."

Representative Edwards cited Congress' oversight and funding powers as the means by which Congress could restore the proper balance among the branches of government. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Constitution Project and as a member of its bipartisan Liberty and Security Committee. The Committee published several reports on separation of powers, with particular regard to state secrecy, domestic surveillance, and detainee treatment. Additional witnesses included Liberty and Security Committee members Harold Hongju Koh, Dean of Yale Law School, and Suzanne Spaulding, former Chief Counsel for the Senate and House Intelligence Committees."

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