The Battle for Congress: Who Decides What and Why?

The recent events in Washington DC have sparked a debate on the role and responsibilities of Congress in governing the country. On February 8, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Trump v. Anderson, in which a group of Colorado activists argued that Donald Trump should be barred from running for re-election due to his alleged involvement in the January 6 insurrection. The defendants argued that the enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits officers who have engaged in insurrection or rebellion from holding office, lies with Congress.

The House of Representatives' recent impeachment vote of Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas also raises questions about the role of Congress in holding the executive branch accountable. The impeachment article accused Mayorkas of deliberately not enforcing several immigration laws. The impeachment trial, if it proceeds, will take place in the Democrat-controlled Senate, which is widely expected to acquit Mayorkas.

These events raise deeper questions about the role of Congress in our constitutional democracy. Was Congress intended to be a mere ceremonial body, with its enactments being advisory and subject to preference and selective enforcement by the executive and judicial branches? Or was Congress intended to be a powerful check on the executive and judicial branches, responsible for holding them accountable and enforcing the laws?

The Framers of the Constitution considered impeachment to be a political act, with representatives from the House and Senate making decisions based on their interpretation of the law and their judgment of the severity of the offense. The Constitution provides that the Executive and Judiciary are accountable to Congress, and that Congress has the power to remove them through impeachment for serious abuses of power.

However, the failure of recent Congresses to take their powers seriously has led to a decline in the influence of Congress in how America is governed. Key constitutional questions have been decided by the courts and bureaucracy rather than by democratic debate and voting, and statutory laws have been enacted and enforced by regulatory agencies without democratic oversight.

The country is now at a crossroads, with Congress struggling to regain its democratic legitimacy and enforce its laws against the will of the executive and judicial branches. The events in Washington DC serve as a reminder of the importance of Congress in our constitutional system and the need for elected representatives to fulfill their role as guardians of democracy and the rule of law.

As James Madison said, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." The battle for Congress is a battle for the soul of America, and only time will tell if Congress can rise to the challenge and fulfill its role as a vital check and balance in our democratic system.

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