Legislative supremacy in the United States? Rethinking the "enrolled bill" doctrine

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This Article revisits the "enrolled bill" doctrine which requires courts to accept the signatures of the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate on the "enrolled bill" as unimpeachable evidence that a bill has been constitutionally enacted. It argues that this time-honored doctrine has far-reaching ramifications that were largely overlooked in existing discussions. In addition to reexamining the soundness of this doctrine's main rationales, the Article introduces two major novel arguments against the doctrine. First, it argues that the doctrine amounts to an impermissible delegation of both judicial and lawmaking powers to the legislative officers of Congress. Second, it establishes that this doctrine is inextricably related to the traditional English concept of legislative supremacy. Although the doctrine was never explicitly linked to legislative supremacy in the United States, this Article argues that it amounts, in effect, to a view of the legislative process as a sphere of unfettered legislative supremacy, immune from judicial review. The Article argues, therefore, that the doctrine is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-390
Number of pages68
JournalGeorgetown Law Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 08-173


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