Congress’s oversight authority derives from its implied powers in the Constitution. So when Congress wants to oversee anything related to the Bush Administration, the Bush Administration and anyone who worked for the Bush administration who is so inclined, repond thusly:
Now, our president has only done that to Congress since the voters took Congress’ rubber stamp away in the 2006 elections, so at least some intrepid souls such as Rep. Conyers, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, could actually attempt to practice oversight.
You’d think the Supreme Court would be another matter. Three of the five justices who put Bush into power remain on the bench, and the two who have left — Rehnquist and O’Connor — have been replaced with two men even more to the president’s liking. And ever since 1803 the Supreme Court has claimed this thing called “judicial review,” which means they get to say what’s what, constitution-wise, to everyone else.
But even the Supreme Court of Roberts-Scalia-Kennedy-Thomas-Alito and four ever more inconsequential other folks can fail to rubber stamp the will of the Supreme Decider and Commander Guy, once in a while:
The Supreme Court, in a decision 15 months ago that startled the government, ordered the EPA to decide whether human health and welfare are being harmed by greenhouse gas pollution from cars, power plants and other sources, or to provide a good explanation for not doing so.
Times up, White House! And as the Washington Post points out:
To defer compliance with the Supreme Court’s demand, the White House has walked a tortured policy path, editing its officials’ congressional testimony, refusing to read documents prepared by career employees and approved by top appointees, requesting changes in computer models to lower estimates of the benefits of curbing carbon dioxide, and pushing narrowly drafted legislation on fuel-economy standards that officials said was meant to sap public interest in wider regulatory action.
The decision to solicit further comment overrides the EPA’s written recommendation from December. Officials said a few senior White House officials were unwilling to allow the EPA to state officially that global warming harms human welfare. Doing so would legally trigger sweeping regulatory requirements under the 45-year-old Clean Air Act, one of the pillars of U.S. environmental protection, and would cost utilities, automakers and others billions of dollars while also bringing economic benefits, EPA’s analyses found.
In short, the White House is saying to the Supreme Court:
Oddly, I’ve never seen a photo of another head of state making this gesture, especially not more than once! If an ancient Roman military salute came to be known as the “Hitler salute,” then let our unitary executive’s gesture hereinafter be known as the “Bush salute.”
Did you remember to salute?