Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Bell on Congressional Oversight of the Federal Judiciary

Lauren Bell has published Monitoring or Meddling? Congressional Oversight of the Judicial Branch, 64 Wayne L. Rev. 23 (2018). It concludes:

This Article has taken steps to remedy the disconnect between the literature on congressional oversight of the executive branch and oversight of the judicial branch. It has demonstrated that several of the theories that explain congressional oversight in the executive branch context also explain Congress’ interactions with the judicial branch. Moreover, this article has demonstrated that while Congress may be challenged in its capacity to provide effective oversight of the executive branch, it is able to effectively curb the courts. While traditional oversight activities, such as hearings and requests for information are likely to be more limited in the judicial context, when Congress turns its sights on the courts, it brings significant constitutional, statutory, and institutional authority to bear on reviewing judicial actions and offering correction.

In sum, if congressional oversight of the executive branch is political control of the bureaucracy, then it is hard not to view the totality of Congress’ efforts at monitoring and influencing the judicial branch chronicled here as attempts at political control of the judiciary. For this reason, it is unfortunate that the literature on congressional oversight continues to ignore almost completely Congress’ role in shaping the federal courts. Bringing the courts into the oversight literature will provide additional insights into the ways in which Congress approaches its oversight responsibilities, while allowing a fuller understanding of the impact of congressional oversight on the judicial branch.




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