Do you have any interest in the special counsel’s investigation or maybe impeachment? Well, you’re going to want to pay attention to what the House Judiciary Committee is doing.
Beyond those bombshell issues, the fact that the Democrats are in control of the House Judiciary Committee is critically important. As you’ll see, this committee oversees a lot of critical issues, which under the Republicans, weren’t getting looked into at all. Here’s a quick guide for you.
What is the Committee’s charge?
Broadly speaking, the House Judiciary Committee has oversight of the federal courts and their administrative agencies, and federal law enforcement agencies. They are charged with making sure that justice is being served in accordance with the Constitution and other laws.
Some of the big issues that are under the committee’s jurisdiction include immigration, voting rights, and oversight of the Department of Justice (yes, that would include the Russia investigation being conducted by Bob Mueller.) The House Judiciary Committee is also only committee in Congress that conducts impeachments of federal officials, including the President. Other issues they look at include copyright law and issues involving the internet, such as net neutrality.
(As a quick aside, the Senate Judiciary Committee is quite different from the House Committee. For example, all nominations that come from the executive branch–like Cabinet secretaries, Supreme Court nominees, etc.–go through the Senate Committee, not the House.)
Like all Committees, in addition to their oversight duties, they work on legislation that falls under their jurisdiction.
The House Judiciary has five subcommittees:
✦ Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law
✦ The Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
✦ Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
✦ Immigration and Citizenship
✦ Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet
Who is the Committee Chair?
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-New York) is the new Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. He takes over from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) who tried to weaken the Congressional Ethics Office at the start of the previous Congress, but ended up abandoning the effort after swift and loud backlash.
There’s a terrific rundown of the issues that have been the most important to Nadler during his congressional career HERE.
This won’t be Nadler’s first time battling with Trump. Back in the 1980s when Nadler was on the New York State Assembly, they clashed over various Manhattan real estate projects.
What can we expect from the Committee going forward?
The Judiciary Committee is very likely to have very high-profile hearings during this Congress. For starters, as the committee oversees the Dept. of Justice, Nadler wants to look into Trump ousting of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to see if the president abused his power to interfere in Mueller’s investigation. Nadler will also be in charge of handling any report that Mueller produces, including any disagreements about how much of should be made public.
For example, Nadler has already scheduled a hearing so that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker can be questioned about his role in Mueller’s investigation and his decision not to recuse from the investigation despite receiving a recommendation to do so. To get a sense of the type of hearing Nadler will conduct, here’s what the Chairman plans on asking Whitaker.
Nadler has said that he will have hearings on the family separation policies at the U.S.-Mexico border, increases in hate crimes since Trump won the presidency, and voter suppression.
There is speculation that the Judiciary Committee may look into investigating whether or not Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh lied during his hearings. This comes from comments Rep. Joe Neguse made (who is on the Judiciary Committee).
As for the massive responsibility that would be conducting any kind of impeachment proceedings, Roll Call has a good article HERE about Nadler’s views on that, stemming from when he was in Congress during Clinton’s impeachment.
How to stay on top of what the Committee is doing
This is the third in a short series on the key House Committees. The other posts covered the Oversight Committee, the Intelligence Committee. the Ways and Means Committee, and the Financial Services Committee.