It goes without saying that US Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), is one of the larger and more constitutional voices in the US House of Representatives. The former federal prosecutor has no qualms about asking the tough questions and pursuing the constitutional road less traveled.
In one of his more pointed and cogent House floor speeches making the rounds on social media, Gowdy advanced a bit of constitutional literacy to his fellow congressmen. The 2014 speech was in support of the Enforce the Law Act, which would have enabled Congress to sue the Executive Branch over its selective enforcement of the laws. “The House of Representatives does not exist to pass ‘suggestions,’” Gowdy thundered. “We make law.”
The issue of the Executive Branch’s selective enforcement of the law has come to a pinnacle under Barack Obama. His use of Executive Orders and regulations to affect law – and his refusal to enforce laws beyond any semblance of prosecutorial discretion – is unconstitutional and unprecedented.
It was this exact refusal to enforce federal laws that moved Republicans in Congress to advance legislation to the Senate that would have given Congress the ability to achieve standing to bring suit against the Executive Branch – in this case the Obama Administration – for failing to “faithful execute” the laws of our nation.
Gowdy, speaking to his fellow congressmen as colleagues instead of entertaining partisans, posited the question of what is the body’s recourse when law has been passed by the US Congress and affirmed by the US Supreme Court, only to be ideologically and/or politically nullified by the Executive Branch through non-enforcement.
“The House of Representatives does not exist to pass ‘suggestions,’” Gowdy said. “We do not exist to pass ‘ideas.’ We make law. And while you are free to stand and clap, when any president comes into this hallowed chamber and promises to do it ‘with or without you,’ I will never stand and clap when any president – no matter if he is from your party or mine – promises to make us a constitutional anomaly and afterthought. We make law!”
Indeed, our nation exists to a great extent constitutionally illiterate. Many believe that the President of the United States, once elected, has a mandate to do whatever he or she chooses whenever they feel like it.
But this is absolutely not the case. In fact, the Executive Branch is tasked with “faithfully executing” the laws of the land. Those laws are crafted in the US Congress and either signed into law by the president or vetoed by the president. Even then, Congress can override a presidential veto.