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Thornberry, House authorize legal support for Texas, states in Supreme Court case

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Washington, March 17, 2016 | comments
U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) voted today in support of a resolution, H. Res. 639, authorizing the Speaker to file a legal brief on behalf of the House of Representatives in support of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on the deportation of some illegal immigrants. The lawsuit was filed by the State of Texas and 25 other states and will be heard by the Supreme Court this summer. The resolution passed the House by a vote of 234 to 186.

“The importance of this lawsuit cannot be understated as it goes to the heart of the separation of powers in our constitutional system,” Thornberry said. “The Supreme Court should recognize that no president, whether Democrat or Republican, should have the power to circumvent Congress and undermine the rule of law.” 

"This is very important. If we’re going to maintain the founding principle of being a self-governing people, if we’re going to maintain the founding principle of government by consent of the governed, the legislative branch of government needs to be the one writing the laws—not the executive branch,” said Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) .

In a ruling last year, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the states in the lawsuit. The Court’s decision prevents the Obama Administration’s implementation of the executive actions while the matter makes its way through the legal system. 

In the lawsuit, the Supreme Court asked whether the President’s executive amnesty violates his duties under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Thornberry said that is a question the House is uniquely qualified to answer, because under Article I, “all legislative Powers” are vested in Congress. 

H. Res. 639 authorizes Speaker Ryan to file a brief on behalf of the whole House defending Congress’s Article I powers. The decision to file these briefs is usually made by the House’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, not the full body. This is the first time any speaker has taken this step.

Thornberry voted last year in support of H.R. 240, the “Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act,” which prevents any funds from being used to carry out the President’s executive actions that grant deferred action to nearly five million illegal immigrants. The bill passed Congress and was signed into law by the President. 

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