Separation of Powers
Public Citizen v. Clerk, United States District Court for the District of Columbia
In this case filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, we argue that a law President Bush signed on Feb. 8, 2006 is invalid because he signed a version of the bill that was passed by the U.S. Senate but not the U.S. House of Representatives. The law, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, decreases student loan and Medicare spending, extends welfare cuts, and cuts federal funding of state child-support enforcement programs.
In fall 2005, the House and Senate passed different versions of the Deficit Reduction Act. To reconcile the differences between the two versions, the legislation was sent to a House-Senate conference committee. The bill was modified and the final conference version was filed on Dec. 19. On the same day, the House passed the conference report. The Senate, however, rejected the conference report and on Dec. 21 passed an amended version of the bill. The Senate clerk sent it back to the House to vote on. But before transmitting it, the Senate clerk made a substantive change to the bill by altering the duration of Medicare payments for certain durable medical equipment such as hospital beds and wheelchairs from 13 months, as passed by the Senate, to 36 months.
The House passed the version with the clerk's error. Bush then signed the legislation that was passed by the Senate - which did not contain the clerk's error - and not the version passed by the House, which did.
The Bicameral Clause of the United States Constitution states that "every bill [must] have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate" before it becomes a law. Because the president signed a bill that was passed only by the Senate, the act is unconstitutional.
The court of appeals affirmed the district court decision on May 29, 2007. On August 6, 2007, we filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court. That petition is pending.
- Cert. Reply (11/15/2007)
- Cert. Petition (8/6/2007)
- Reply Brief (12/11/2006)
- Opening Brief for Appellants (10/6/2006)
- Public Citizen Press Release (8/11/2006)
- Memorandum Opinion (8/11/2006)
- Memorandum in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (5/9/2006)
- Reply Memorandum in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (6/13/2006)
- Complaint (3/21/2006)
- Public Citizen Press Release (3/21/2006)
- Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 Fact Sheet (3/21/2006)
Balanced Budget Amendment
- Testimony of Alan B. Morrison Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment (House)
- Testimony of Alan B. Morrison Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment (Senate)
- Commentary on Balanced Budget Amendment and Line Item Veto
- Truth in Budget Balancing
- Missing the Critical Issues
- Speaking of Trainwrecks
- Preserving Checks and Balances
- Statement of Alan Morrison Before the Committee on the Judiciary, US Senate, Regarding the Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment (1/22/1997)
Clinton v. City of New York, et al.
- Supreme Court amicus brief (4/3/1998)
Byrd, et al. v. Raines, et al.
- Opening Supreme Court Brief for Appellees
- Supreme Court Reply Brief for Appellees
- Memorandum and Order (U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson)
The Independent Counsel Act: What Congress Should Consider In Deciding Whether To Reauthorize It
By David C. Vladeck and Alan B. Morrison