Testimony Before House Judiciary Committee Task Force on Executive Overreach

March 15th, 2016

On March 15, I testified before the House Judiciary Committee’s Executive Overreach Task Force. The topic was be “Executive Overreach in Domestic Affairs Part I – Health Care and Immigration.” My comments are available here:

It was live-streamed on YouTube.

I am introduced at 51:48, sworn in at 52:54, and my testimony begins at 58:17.  Rep. King asked me a question at 1:16:01, Rep. Goodlatte asked me a question at 1:24:59, Rep. Labrador asked me a question at 1:52:08. One of the more memorable questions came from Rep. Issa at 2:23:15. “When you teach law, do you teach that Justices are partisan, one a Republican, one a Democrat.” I replied, “I do not, Sir.” Rep. Issa asked me a followup question at 2:25:00, where I called Congress “lazy.” Finally, Rep. Issa asked me a lengthy question about Louis Lerner, and whether Congress could compel the Attorney General to convene. At 2:34:59, I replied I passed.

Here are a few photos from the hearing–you can see Ilya Shapiro sitting over my shoulder. If I had gotten into a jam, I would’ve tagged him in.






The South Texas College of Law has offered this writeup of the event:

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee invited Josh Blackman – constutional law expert and professor at South Texas College of Law/Houston – to testify before its Task Force on Executive Overreach this week in Washington, D.C.

The Task Force is charged with studying the impact of recent executive actions by the president and the constitutional authority of the executive branch in taking these independent measures. Chaired by Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa), the task force will conduct its investigation over a six-month period and make recommendations regarding any deficiencies, including legislative solutions.

King and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) noted of the hearing, “Throughout his tenure in office, President Obama has used his pen and phone to effectively legislate from the Oval Office… These unilateral, unconstitutional actions pose a threat to our Republic’s separation of powers. The Task Force on Executive Overreach will begin its examination of the President’s abuse of authority in domestic affairs and look for solutions to end this growing problem.”

Blackman, whose selection as a Task Force witness was based on his schoarship in this area, authored the book, Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare.

During his three-hour testimony, Blackman addressed key constitutional issues regarding the president’s executive actions on both immigration and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He argued that President Obama unilaterally modified, delayed, and suspended the the ACA’s mandates; and that he disregarded Congress’ rejection of his immigration bill, choosing instead to enact his own preferences through executive action. He also advised that executive lawmaking irreparably weakens the separation of powers and rule of law.

“Although the Courts play an essential role to serve as the ‘bulwarks of a limited Constitution,’ our Republic cannot leave the all-important task of safeguarding freedom to the judiciary,” said Blackman. “To eliminate the dangers of non-enforcement, the Congress must counteract the president’s ambition. The failure to do so will continue the one-way ratchet toward executive supremacy, and a dilution of the powers of the Congress, and the sovereignty of the people.”

In addition to Blackman, other Task Force witnesses this week included: Elizabeth Papez, partner at Winston & Strawn, LLP; Simon Lazurus, senior counsel of the Constitutional Accountability Center; and Elizabeth Slattery, legal fellow of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies of The Heritage Foundation.