Saturday, July 21, 2007

President and Congress---King and Parliament?

The Bush administration has recently declared that Congress has no power in the fired attorney case to pursue contempt charges against the people responsible. This is only the latest rebuke against Congress' efforts to exercise power over the government. It may be a little overwrought but this sort of standoff reminds me of the standoffs between King and Parliament that preceded both the English Civil War and the French Revolution. In both of those cases the Parliament had no executive power and was instead just a body to pass laws every now and then and approve budgets. But when crises regarding royal authority happened the Parliaments first tried to stop the action of the executive through legislation, then got into contests pitting them against the executive. In both cases, the Parliaments won, but the price was high: the conflict between royal authority and the parliaments caused the English Civil War and the French Revolution.

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