March 3, 2011 by Daniel Farber

Michele Bachmann's Unconstitutional Light-Bulb Bill

Cross-posted from Legal Planet.

Michele Bachmann has introduced legislation to overturn the statute requiring the use of energy-efficient light bulbs, according to E&E News.  One  feature of the bill is its escape valve:

Bachmann’s bill would allow the mandate to stand if the Government Accountability Office can prove the energy efficient bulbs would meet three criteria: that they provide real cost savings for consumers, significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions and do not produce health risks for consumers. . .

“Frankly, I would be surprised if the GAO can prove these criteria, but at minimum, my bill will provide the opportunity to examine these important issues,” she added. “The American people want less government intrusion into their lives, not more, and that includes staying out of their personal light bulb choices.”

Why is this GAO escape-valve unconstitutional?  The answer stems from the fact that the General Accountability Office is part of the legislative branch.  As GAO’s website says:

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is known as “the investigative arm of Congress” and “the congressional watchdog.” GAO supports the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and helps improve the performance and accountability of the federal government for the benefit of …

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