House Judiciary Hearing on the President’s Duty to Execute Laws

On 12/2/13 at 10:00am the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the “The President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws.

Witness List

Mr. Jonathan Turley
Professor, George Washington University Law School

Mr. Nicholas Rosenkranz
Professor, Georgetown University Law Center

Mr. Simon Lazarus
Senior Counsel, Constitutional Accountability Center

Mr. Michael F. Cannon
Director of Health Policy Studies, Cato Institute

(Most of this hearing focused on the Affordable Care Act and the President's decision not to defend DOMA, below is a summary of the immigration related remarks)

Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), begins the hearing with his opening statement.
The President has overstepped his authority and has made end rounds around Congress with broad claims of prosecutorial discretion. While Congress is debating our immigration laws the President effectively implemented the DREAM Act through executive order by instituting the deferred action program.

Ranking member, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), gives his opening statement.
Some of my colleagues think that providing prosecutorial discretion is a violation of executive powers outlined in the Constitution, but the administration's decision to defer action against particular individuals in neither unconstitutional or unreasonable. The Supreme Court has likened this to a prosecutor's decision not to indict.

Chairman Goodlatte: Is the President simply exercising prosecutorial discretion?
Professor Rosenkranz: Prosecutorial discretion is one thing, but the wholesale suspension of law is something else, which is what is happening with the deferred action for childhood arrivals. This scale is not within the concept of prosecutorial discretion.

Rep. Scott (D-VA): If the president can't set priorities in enforcement, when there is obviously not enough money, how do you set priorities if you can't enforce each and every position.
Mr. Lazarus: It is the President's authority to do just that, to set priorities. I will note that President Obama has increased deportations to the consternation of many of his supporters, to about 400,000 per year (about four times more than in 2000), which is the amount of funding he was given by Congress.

Rep. Johnson (D-GA): This committee hearing is a farce, especially when we have so much important legislation to consider. Yesterday, after a hard work day of one hour I saw numerous Members of this House walk with their heads down past a number of immigration reform advocates praying in front of Congress, asking Speaker Boehner to bring up reform on the floor of the House. This do nothing House has only seven legislative days left before it adjourns, I think we should hold a hearing on why the House has not passed immigration reform, a bill that has already passed the Senate with overwhelming numbers and a bill that the President said he would sign if it came to his desk.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 13120244.