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Monday, April 18, 2016

United States vs Texas | Commentary by Speaker Paul Ryan

WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued the following statement ahead of today’s oral arguments in United States v. Texas, during which the House of Representatives will weigh in on whether the president violated his duty to faithfully execute the laws:

“The Constitution is clear: Presidents don’t write laws, Congress does. Presidents may disagree with the laws, but they are not free to ignore those laws and have unelected bureaucrats write new ones. This is a threat to self-government itself. We have sworn an oath to defend the Constitution, and today at the Supreme Court, we will do just that.”


On January 19, the Supreme Court agrees to hear United States v. Texas, but adds its own question for the parties to consider: Did the president’s actions violate his constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”?

On March 1, Speaker Ryan announces that he will ask the House, as an institution uniquely qualified to answer the Court’s question, to vote on a resolution authorizing him to file a brief defending Article I: “The president is not permitted to write law—only Congress is.” 

On March 17the House adopts H. Res. 639, authorizing Speaker Ryan to file a brief. Speaking on the floor shortly before the vote, Ryan says, “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.”

On April 4the House files its brief, setting forth why Congress—and only Congress—is empowered to write the laws. Here is a key quote, from p. 35 of the full brief:

“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.” 

On April 8, the Supreme Court grants the House’s request for 15 minutes of time during oral arguments. Erin Murphy, partner at Bancroft, PLLC will argue on behalf of the House, which is being represented pro bono in this matter.

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