The Judiciary Committees: A Study of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees

By Peter H. Schuck; Ralph Nader Congress Project | Go to book overview

Introduction

If Congress, as it has been said, is the heart of our democracy, then the House and Senate Judiciary committees are its lifeblood. These committees provide perhaps the clearest measure of the success or failure of Congress in protecting and advancing the public good. If Congress is to assert itself as a vital organ of our political and moral life, as a counterweight to a presidency grown swollen with power, as an energetic and passionate advocate for long-ignored public interests, the Judiciary committees will have to play a leading role.

These committees are uniquely suited to perform this creative function. From the earliest days of the Republic, Congress has vouchsafed to the Judiciary committees its highest constitutional responsibilities. The definition and protection of constitutional rights; confirmation of members of the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court; amendment of the Constitution; impeachment of the president and other federal officials--these are awesome tasks, requiring the highest degree of integrity, independence, and initiative.

Both committees consist entirely of lawyers, men and women whose professional responsibilities are expected to be tied to the cause of justice and the rule of law. If they permit the law to become an instrument of oppression or a shield for the status quo,

-xvii-

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