WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives has filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Texas opposing the Obama administration's executive overreach. The brief, authorized by a vote of the full House, sets forth why only Congress—not the executive branch—is empowered to write the nation’s immigration laws.
“The Constitution is clear: Presidents don’t write laws. Congress does,” Speaker Ryan said. “This administration’s executive overreach must be stopped. We are taking this extraordinary action to protect the integrity of our Constitution, and return power to the people.”
Here is a key quote from the full brief, filed today by the House’s general counsel:
“Under our Constitution, Congress is entrusted with 'All legislative Powers,' including the 'Power To … establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.' The Executive may disagree with the laws Congress enacts and may try to persuade Congress to change them. But neither any immigration law now on the books nor the Constitution empowers the Executive to authorize— let alone facilitate—the prospective violation of those laws on a massive class-wide scale.” (p. 35)
- On January 19, 2016, the Supreme Court agreed to hear United States v. Texas, but added its own question to the case: Did the president’s actions violate his duties to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”?
- On March 1, 2016, Speaker Ryan announced that the House, as an institution uniquely qualified to answer the Court’s question, would consider a resolution authorizing him to file a brief defending Congress's enumerated powers under Article I of the Constitution. “The president is not permitted to write law—only Congress is,” he said.
- On March 17, 2016, the House adopted H. Res. 639, authorizing Speaker Ryan to file this brief. Shortly before the vote, he said, “Members who are making immigration policy arguments are missing the entire point here. This comes down to a much more fundamental question. It is about the integrity of our Constitution.”
- The House is being represented pro bono in this matter. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case on April 18.