“Quite important as lawmaking is vigilant oversight of administration.”
“The informing function of Congress should be preferred even to its legislative function.”
The above quotes capture the central theme for this seminar, which explores Congress’ oversight of the Executive Branch. Oversight and investigation are one of Congress’ primary means of asserting its role in the Constitutional scheme of separated powers. Historically, this assertion creates tensions that forces interplay among the three coordinate branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. This course will examine these issues as well as review the tools Congress uses to execute its powers. This includes the full range of Congress’ compulsory powers through the issuance of subpoenas, grants of immunity, contempt rulings, and enforcement actions in civil and criminal court. Students will use major investigations as case studies to demonstrate these processes. Students will be asked to assume roles as various actors in the process, which includes members of Congress and their staffs; officials in the executive branch, and the judiciary.
1Woodrow Wilson, Congressional Government, (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1885), 303
- Students will understand the interplay among the three coordinate branches as a result of our constitutional structure, and how these structural relationships impact law and policy-making.
- Students will understand the tools at Congress’s disposal to effect legislative oversight and congressional investigations. To borrow a phrase from one of our texts, “you will learn how the worlds of lawmaking, law-implementing, law-interpreting, and law-enforcing connect.”