It is extremely heartening to see members of Congress defending the Constitution and the rule of law. Many members of Congress appear to be too frightened of the lobbying power of xenophobic extremists, or of the likely negative press spewed by pundits such as Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannnity. Rather than stand up for what they know is right, they crouch down and hope that they won't be noticed and the whole issue will go away. Any member of Congress who has not signed on to the Amicus Curiae brief in support of the Constitutional challenge to Chertoff's unchecked power should be contacted and asked to explain their inaction. Members of the House of Representatives should also be urged to cosponsor the Borderlands Conservation and Security Act (HR 2593) which would repeal section 102 of the Real ID Act, restoring the rule of law to our borderlands.
The following is the press release issued by the members of Congress who will sign the Amicus Curiae brief:
April 7, 2008 – Today,
The Amici will urge the to grant certiorari in the case. The petitioners, the Defenders of Wildlife and Sierra Club, allege that the ’s use of the waiver is unconstitutional. (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on led a group of 14 Members of Congress, including eight Committee Chairmen, in submitting a notice of intent to file an Amicus Curiae brief in the Defenders of Wildlife case (No. 07-1180). The brief, which will be filed by the end of the month, pertains to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s use of questionable waiver authority to skirt numerous federal laws in order to construct fencing along the southwest border.
Today’s notice of intent is being submitted by:
· Chairman (D-MS);
· Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman (D-MI);
· Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI);
· Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN);
· Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA);
· Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY)
· Veterans Affairs Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA);
· Intelligence Committee Chairman (D-TX);
· (D-AZ); and
· Congresswoman ).
Speaking to today’s filing, Chairman Thompson noted that “this waiver by the Secretary of Homeland Security is a direct challenge to Congress’s Constitutional role. The American people entrust Congress to ensure that the laws of this land are faithfully executed not excused by the Executive Branch.” Congressman Thompson added that “while the protection of our nation is a paramount concern to all of us, DHS must act prudently and respect the laws that Congress has written. The far-reaching effects that this waiver will have on the institution of Congress, as well as the border, demands that we act swiftly.” (D-NY
“This blanket waiver of laws like the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act is a clear and disturbing abuse of the Secretary’s discretion,” added , Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “Congress’ efforts to seek justification for this waiver from DHS have been stonewalled, which leads me to believe none exists.” Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) added that "our responsibility to be stewards of the earth cannot be thrown aside for the sake of an ill-conceived border fence. The Administration exempts itself from a duty to protect the environment, sacred burial sites, and centuries-old farms, but conveniently spares wealthy landowners from the bulldozers."
“The ’s decision to issue waivers to expedite the construction of a wasteful fence along the Southwest border is disappointing at best. As a former Border Patrol Sector Chief and current Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, I know the importance of securing our borders and fully support providing our agents with strong tools to carry out their jobs. I do not, however, support DHS’s continued disregard for border communities. This recent attempt to bypass more than 30 laws and regulations to pursue an already ill-advised idea should not move forward,” added Intelligence Committee Chairman .
The Members are represented by Alan E. Untereiner, Max Huffman, and Alan D. Strasser of Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber LLP in .