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If Administration Wants to Reform Criminal Justice System, Work with Congress


Location: Washington, DC

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte issued the statement below following Attorney General Eric Holder's speech to the American Bar Association:

"Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has a pattern of overstepping its constitutional bounds by selectively enforcing our laws and attempting to change them through executive fiat in blatant disregard for the limitations the U.S. Constitution places on the Executive Branch.

"I agree with many of the policy issues Attorney General Holder outlined today. In fact, months ago the House Judiciary Committee created the Overcriminalization Task Force to broadly address these as well as other issues with our nation's criminal justice system. Over the past few decades, the federal criminal code has expanded dramatically, often duplicating state efforts and creating an ever-increasing labyrinth of federal regulations, many of which impose criminal penalties without requiring that criminal intent be shown to establish guilt. This Task Force is in the process of taking a broad look at our criminal code, allowing for input from experts, and is already considering sentencing and prison reform issues. The Committee will continue its work on this critical issue in the fall. If Attorney General Holder wants to reform our criminal justice system, he should work with Congress to do so. We welcome his input on this important issue.

"However, Attorney General Holder cannot unilaterally ignore the laws or the limits on his Executive powers. While the Attorney General has the ability to use prosecutorial discretion in individual cases, that authority does not extend to entire categories of people. We will be closely monitoring his efforts to ensure that the Obama Administration does not attempt to exceed its constitutional powers once again."

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