Public cynicism about politics in general and about Congress in particular should not be allowed to obscure an appreciation of the vital role of Congress in our system of government, writes constitutional scholar Louis Fisher in his latest book, “Defending Congress and the Constitution.”
“Without a strong Congress, we cannot speak of democracy,” he says. “Safeguarding individual rights is often assumed to reside almost wholly with the judiciary, but history offers scant support for that position. Congress frequently takes the lead in defending personal rights and minorities that are not protected in the courts.”
Fisher explores a range of historical and contemporary episodes involving congressional investigations and oversight, the use of budget authority, and the role of Congress in national security policy, including all kinds of lore he gathered over nearly four decades as a senior specialist at the Congressional Research Service.
Fisher recognizes the diminished esteem in which Congress is held by many members of the public and, not coincidentally, the decline in Congress’ own institutional self-confidence. His intent is to challenge this erosion and to help refurbish the highest traditions of congressional leadership.
“Congress has a good story to tell in defending the Constitution and protecting individual freedoms. Lawmakers need to tell it.”
In “Defending Congress and the Constitution” (University Press of Kansas, 2011), Fisher hopes to remind readers of that neglected story.