Bowsher v. Synar

478 U.S. 714, 106 S. Ct. 3181 (1986)

 

RULE:

Because under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, 2 U.S.C.S. § 901 et seq., Congress has retained removal authority over the Comptroller General, he may not be entrusted with executive powers. 

FACTS:

Congress passed the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, under which the Comptroller General was responsible for preparing and submitting to the President a report specifying deficit reductions for a fiscal year. The President in turn was to order the reductions specified by the Comptroller General. The Comptroller General was removable from office only by Congress. Respondents, Congressmen and others, initiated an action challenging the Act's constitutionality. The trial court ruled that the Comptroller General's role in the deficit reduction process violated the constitutionally imposed separation of powers. On direct appeal, the court affirmed. 

ISSUE:

Did the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 violate the separation of powers? 

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

Responsibility for execution of the Act was placed in the hands of the Comptroller General. It violated separation of powers as the statute delegated executive powers to an officer under Congress' direct control. Congress retained control over such execution and thus intruded into the executive function in violation of separation of powers. The Act was unconstitutional because it gave the Comptroller General, an officer of the legislative branch over whom Congress retained removal power, the ultimate authority to determine the budget cuts to be made, functions plainly entailing execution of the law in constitutional terms.

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