Tennessee House Passes Bill to Establish Formal Review Process for Constitutionality of Presidential Orders

President Biden and the Tennessee Capital

The Tennessee House passed a bill Monday establishing a formal review process to check the constitutionality of presidential executive orders. However, the bill wasn’t passed in its entirety. An amendment adopted to the original bill, introduced by State Representative Rick Eldridge (R-Morristown), removed the provision prohibiting any state agency, political subdivision, or elected or appointed official or employee from implementing any executive order that Tennessee’s Attorney General determined unconstitutional in relation to pandemics; public health emergencies; natural resource, land use, or financial sector regulations; or Second Amendment rights.

According to the legislation, the General Assembly Joint Government Operations Committee would review presidential executive orders at their discretion. Following their review, the Attorney General would then have the final say regarding the constitutionality of any presidential executive orders as reviewed by the General Assembly.

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Proposed Bill Wants General Assembly to Have Final Say on Agencies Created Under Governor’s Emergency Powers

Legislators are considering whether the General Assembly should have the final say on agencies created by governor executive order.

A proposed bill would empower lawmakers to review any executive agencies created through the governor’s emergency powers. Specifically, the Joint Committee on Government Operations would decide within 60 days whether the executive agency should be allowed to exist, and notify the General Assembly within 5 days of the completion of the review.

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Tennessee Legislators Propose Empowering General Assembly to Scrutinize Presidential Executive Orders for Constitutionality

Several state representatives and senators have proposed a bill to review the constitutionality of presidential executive orders. According to the bills, if Congress doesn’t affirm an executive order and isn’t signed into law, then the joint government operations committee of Tennessee’s General Assembly would review whether the order overextends its scope of authority. Upon concluding their review, the committee would decide whether to recommend the Tennessee Attorney General and Governor to reexamine or seek an exemption from the order.

Additionally, the bill proposed that no state agency, political subdivision, elected officials, or government employees could enforce the order if the Tennessee Attorney General determines it is unconstitutional. That portion of the proposed bill would specifically apply to orders concerning pandemics or public health emergencies; natural resource regulations; agricultural industry regulations; land use regulations; financial regulations concerning environmental, social, or governance standards; and Second Amendment regulations. 
Additionally, the bill proposed that no state agency, political subdivision, elected officials, or government employees could enforce the order if the Tennessee Attorney General determines it is unconstitutional. That portion of the proposed bill would specifically apply to orders concerning pandemics or public health emergencies; natural resource regulations; agricultural industry regulations; land use regulations; financial regulations concerning environmental, social, or governance standards; and Second Amendment regulations. 
Additionally, the bill proposed that no state agency, political subdivision, elected officials, or government employees could enforce the order if the Tennessee Attorney General determines it is unconstitutional. That portion of the proposed bill would specifically apply to orders concerning pandemics or public health emergencies; natural resource regulations; agricultural industry regulations; land use regulations; financial regulations concerning environmental, social, or governance standards; and Second Amendment regulations. 

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