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"Gramm-Rudman and the Capacity of Congress to Control the Future," 13 Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, Winter 1986.


The Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, popularly known as Gramm-Rudman, raises formidable constitutional issues. Among the issues raised by the Act, one has not received adequate attention. That issue is the unique temporal aspect of Gramm-Rudman: the attempt of one Congress to constrain future Congresses.

Although the constitutional arguments raised by the litigants have been partially successful thus far, there is a disjunction between the formal constitutional arguments and the substantive concern with the Act among both politicians and the public. Neither the nondelegation doctrine nor the separation of powers doctrine—the main grounds on which the Act has been attacked—touches the substantive problems that the Act has created.

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