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Coalition Forms To Curb Executive Branch Power & Presidential Overreach, Restore Checks & Balances

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Published on: September 25, 2021

The Rutherford Institute as part of a coalition of more than 150 groups is calling on Congress to curb executive branch power, prevent future presidential abuses of power, restore checks and balances, and protect elections from foreign interference. The coalition’s open letter to Congress comes in response to “Protecting Our Democracy Act,” a bill introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and more than 100 cosponsors.

“Abuse of power—and the ambition-fueled hypocrisy and deliberate disregard for misconduct that make those abuses possible—works the same no matter what party is in power. The rule of law—i.e., adhering to core legal principles over partisan politics—means that no one, including the president, gets special treatment in the eyes of the law,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “Give any one person (or government agency) too much power and allow them to believe they are entitled, untouchable and unaccountable for their actions, and those powers will eventually be abused. We must guard against this imperial tyranny most of all.”

For decades, congressional authority has been undermined by the executive branch, diminishing the ability of Congress to fulfill its constitutional duties, to protect the rule of law, and to hold all presidents accountable for overreaches and abuses of power. The Protecting Our Democracy Act strives to restore the powers the Founders vested in the legislative branch to serve as a check on the executive without infringing upon the president’s constitutional powers. Among other reforms, this bill would: Strengthen Congress’s ability to oversee the executive branch by fortifying congressional subpoena power by providing expedited consideration of subpoena enforcement by courts; Ensure inspectors general are qualified and empowered to hold federal agencies accountable without fear of reprisal; Ensure whistleblowers can continue shining light on corruption and abuses of power that betray the public trust by enhancing protections against retaliation, providing legal defenses for whistleblowers against civil and criminal liability, and allowing whistleblowers to have their day in court; Reinforce Congress’s constitutional powers over spending and the power of the purse by requiring the Office of Management and Budget to make public basic information about the management of federal funds, and reporting to Congress to ensure those funds are spent in accordance with the law; Strengthen the Hatch Act to protect federal agencies from being used for political purposes and ensure senior political appointees are held accountable under the law the same way other federal employees are; and Prevent abuse of the president’s pardon power by increasing transparency of the pardon process, prohibiting self-pardons by the president, and clarifying that pardons are “official acts” for the purposes of federal bribery statute.

The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties organization, provides legal assistance at no charge to individuals whose constitutional rights have been threatened or violated and educates the public on a wide spectrum of issues affecting their freedoms.

The coalition’s open letter to Congress

Article posted with permission from John Whitehead

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