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Bowsher v. Synar

United States Supreme Court
478 U.S. 714 (1986)



In 1985, Congress passed the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act (the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act) (Act) with the goal of reducing the federal budget deficit. A minimum acceptable amount was calculated for the budget deficit. If the actual deficit exceeded this amount, Congress authorized the Comptroller General to recommend mandatory budget cuts that would then be executed by the President of the United States. However, Congress retained ultimate removal power over the Comptroller General and could remove this official from office for “inefficiency,” “neglect of duty,” or “malfeasance.” Synar (plaintiff), a Congressman, challenged the constitutionality of the Act in federal district court against Bowsher (defendant), the Comptroller General, on the ground that the Act violated the separation of powers doctrine. The district court held that the Act was unconstitutional, and Bowsher appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Burger, C.J.)

Dissent (White, J.)

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