This FedWeb page is presented as a public service and affirmation of the civic importance of understanding the essential principles at the heart of our American democracy including the Constitutional Separation of Powers, Checks & Balances, and the Rule of Law.
“It is well to remember that it is rules and laws that keep the powerful in check and the people in control.” –The Honorable Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, February 15, 2002.
Constitutional Separation of Powers and the Rule of Law
- PolitiFact: Can the President Pardon Himself? (2017)
- CRS: Special Counsels, Independent Counsels, and Special Prosecutors: Options for Independent Executive Investigations (2017)
- CRS: The Law and Leaks to the Press (2017)
- CRS: Separation of Powers – An Overview (2016)
- CRS The Federal Grand Jury (2015)
- CRS: Impeachment and Removal (2015)
- CRS: Federal Grand Juries – The Law in a Nutshell (2015)
- CRS: Article III Standing and Congressional Suits Against the Executive Branch (2014)
- CRS: Congressional Participation in Article III Courts Standing to Sue (2014)
- CRS: Presidential Claims of Executive Privilege (2014)
- CRS: FBI Director Appointment and Tenure (2014)
- CRS: Congressional Oversight Manual (2014)
- CRS: Obstruction of Justice – An Overview of Some of the Federal Statutes that Prohibit Interference with Judicial, Executive, or Legislative Activities (2014)
- CRS: The Political Question Doctrine – Justiciability and the Separation of Powers (2014)
- CRS: Impeachment – An Overview of Constitutional Provisions, Procedure, and Practice (2010)
- CRS: An Overview of the Presidential Pardoning Power (2006)
- CRS: An Overview of the Impeachment Process (2005)
- New Can a Sitting President be Indicted? (via NYTimes FOIA request) (1998)
- CRS: Investigative Oversight – An Introduction to the Law, Practice and Procedure of Congressional Inquiry
- Nuclear Option: The U.S. Senate exercised the so-called “nuclear option” on 4/6/17 – ignoring its own Standing Rules that require a 2/3 threshold to reach a vote on rules changes – and adopted by majority vote a precedent that filibusters of Supreme Court nominees can be ended with 50 votes, rather than 60. This cleared the way for the Majority Party to confirm the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch, with only 54 votes. Fearing that this may lead to the demise of the legislative filibuster (which requires a super-majority of 60 to reach a vote on most legislative matters), a bipartisan group of 61 senators signed a letter on April 7, 2017 urging Senate leaders to maintain the 60-vote requirement; however, the letter is non-binding. See our blog The Senate’s “Nuclear Option” — How it Works and Why It Matters.