Submitted by J. Theodore Schatt,
The dispute between the White House and House Democrats ended up in the Courts this week for a determination of “appropriate oversight”.
A review of the United States Constitution will be of no assistance in resolution of the matter. Oversight is not an enumerated power of Congress. Instead, it is understood that in order for Congress to carry out its own responsibilities under the Constitution, Congress must have the authority to gain necessary information from the Executive branch.
The Judicial branch has previously determined that so long as the request has a legitimate legislative purpose the request is proper.
It appears without question that the House demands from the Executive Branch will have a legitimate legislative purpose. For example, Mr. Nadler has demanded all back-up documentation for the Mueller Report, including the information that by law may not be disclosed. Clearly, a review of this information could permit Congress to determine that FISA laws must be amended to protect a constitutional right to privacy from overzealous, or biased, government agents. That isn’t what Mr. Nadler has in mind, but it would be a “legitimate legislative purpose”.
However, the more interesting issue the Courts may be called upon to determine is whether the current oversight efforts by the House, despite having a “legitimate legislative purpose” are so obviously aimed at weaponizing the oversight authority of the House for political gain that acquiescence to such use would be destructive to the balance of power between the three branches of government. President Nixon faced articles of Impeachment for endeavoring “to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns…” Should Mr. Nadler and his committee be given authority to act in a manner, through “oversight”, that cannot be exercised by the Executive?
Recent history evidences a Democrat party that is perfectly willing to test the boundaries of their constitutional power for political benefit. After demanding that Senator McConnell protect the filibuster of judges nominated by President Bush for fear of destroying the Senate, Senator Reid reversed course and eliminated the filibuster to permit judges nominated by President Obama to be confirmed with a simple majority. Democrats feigned outrage when the filibuster was eliminated to permit Justice Gorsuch to avoid a purely politically motivated filibuster and ascend to the Supreme Court. Prior to the election of 2016, the intelligence operations of the United States were weaponized based upon an opposition research operation paid for by the Clinton Campaign.
Subsequent to the election in 2016, the Department of Justice was weaponized based upon the same opposition research resulting in a nearly three year investigation that failed to substantiate the core allegations of that Clinton opposition research. In September 2018, the entire country was witness to the shamelessly attempted character assassination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh masquerading as the “advise and consent” role of the Senate.
That spectacle was too much even for the mild mannered Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Senator Graham utilized a portion of his time to chastise Democrats for their actions,
“Boy, you [Democrats] all want power. God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham. … To my Republican colleagues, if you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics.”
Mr. Nadler’s attempted use of House oversight for nakedly political means should be no less odorous. Even cloaked in a “legitimate legislative purpose”, the abuse of legitimate government authority for political gain should be decried by all.