The House v. Trump:Stymied Lawmakers Increasingly Battle in the Courts 美眾院告川普 史無前例法律戰
文/Charlie Savage and Nicholas
Democrats took control of the House this year promising to use legislation and investigations to check President Donald Trump. But facing substantial roadblocks to each, they are increasingly opposing him in a different way: Eight months into their majority, the House is going to court at a tempo never seen before.
Fighting in courtrooms as much as in hearing rooms, the House has already become a party to nine separate lawsuits this year, while also filing briefs for judges in four others. More lawsuits are being drafted, according to a senior aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The fights include efforts to reveal Trump's hidden financial dealings, force his aides to testify about his attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation, challenge his invocation of emergency powers to spend more taxpayer money on a border wall than Congress approved and defend laws like the Affordable Care Act that his Justice Department abandoned.
While it is routine for the executive branch to be in court, it was once vanishingly rare for Congress, which has typically used its authority to pass laws, appropriate funds and investigate the executive branch, to balance out the president's power.
Now, as Senate Republicans refuse to take up the bills they pass, Trump administration witnesses refuse to show up for their hearings and the president levels his own highly unusual lawsuits against the House's oversight requests, two of the three branches of government are regularly facing off before the third, creating a new stress with uncertain consequences for the political system.
"It is unprecedented," said Charles Tiefer, a former longtime House lawyer who is now a University of Baltimore law professor. "The challenges for the House counsel ebb and flow over time, but this is like nothing else in history."
The consequences of the specific disputes could be significant. In the short term, they could determine whether House Democrats are able to drag information to light about Trump that could lead to his impeachment or damage his reelection prospects. And potential decisions by the higher courts could clarify the long-ambiguous line between a president's secrecy power and Congress's oversight authority — determining whether future presidents can systematically stonewall congressional subpoenas.
As an immediate matter, the surge in litigation is a consequence of Trump's norm-busting presidency.
本文的單字多與「總統制」（presidential system）有關，像是介紹「權力分立」（separation of powers）的制度，美國聯邦政府有三大分支（branch），包括白宮為首的行政（executive）部門、參議院 （The Senate）和眾議院 （The House of Representatives）代表的立法（legislative）部門，以及聯邦最高法院以降的司法（judicial）部門。
監督與制衡（checks and balances）則是三權分立的核心概念。此與「議會內閣制」（parliamentary system）中，國會多數黨掌握執政權，行政立法一體的情形不同。
"They saw me as a burden," Maheshwari whispered recently, recalling her first day at a new shelter for widows in Vrindavan, as other women crowded around her bed, comforting her by squeezing her shoulders and hands.
Maheshwari said she had lost her social value in the eyes of her family, and her son and other relatives starved and beat her.
Given her lowly status at home, Maheshwari said she was shocked when she stepped into the lobby of her new home: the Krishna Kutir ashram, a government-run facility with about 1,000 beds, a freshly dug swimming pool, and free food and medicine.
Hindu brides are often expected to live with their husbands' families. This weakens ties with their own, and widowhood can spell disaster. Without a husband, a small portion of India's 40 million or so widows are violently purged from their homes each year.
But many of India's castaway widows — most of them illiterate, some married off as infants — have seen significant improvements in their quality of life over the past few years. Prodded by a flurry of public petitions and court rulings, the government and rights groups have invested tens of millions of dollars into lifting the conditions of abandoned women.
The money has gone not only into building group homes for widows, but also to funding pensions and providing work training and medical treatment.
While some of these changes are taking place across India, they are most visible in Vrindavan.
The town is a maze of narrow streets and regal, sandstone temples. All day long, thousands of pilgrims gather to pray at the base of giant statues of deities.
It is believed that widows have gathered in the city since Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a 16th-century Bengali social reformer, brought a group of them there to escape from suttee, a now-banned practice in which Hindu widows immolated themselves on their husbands' funeral pyres.
For many years, the widows in Vrindavan, which is considered the childhood home of the Hindu god Krishna, have survived by singing devotional songs in temples for a few rupees a day, and by begging for money in white saris, a signifier that color had drained from their lives.
Homelessness was common among Vrindavan's widows. Some lived in doorways. When they died, garbage collectors would sometimes stuff their bodies into jute bags and throw them into the Yamuna River, according to local media reports.