Sep 20, 2014 7:23 PM

Administrative Law Can Destroy This Nation

As just about anyone who's been paying attention over the past few years, the number of new rules, regulations, and 'laws' put forth by Washington has increased at a rate that staggers the imagination. What's worse is that a solid majority of them were not instituted by Congress. Instead they were created and imposed by the ever growing ranks of bureaucrats at both federal and state level. (This is not a new phenomenon as it is a problem that has existed as long as there have been governments.) The US has experienced an explosion of these new administrative edicts not seen since FDR was in office. What's troubling is that many of them violate federal, endowing many of the various government agencies and departments with power far outside their charters and exceeding the limits set by the US Constitution.

You may not be interested in administrative law, but administrative law is interested in you. Administrative law is unrecognized by the Constitution, but, according to Columbia Law School Professor Philip Hamburger, it "has become the government's primary mode of controlling Americans." He observes that "administrative law has avoided much rancor because its burdens have been felt mostly by corporations." This is where you come in: "Increasingly, however, administrative law has extended its reach to individuals. The entire society therefore now has opportunities to feel its hard edge."

Professor Hamburger's assessment of the proliferation of administrative law may be an understatement. Formal administrative law -- the regulations promulgated by the alphabet soup of federal agencies -- dwarfs the laws enacted by Congress. To take one vivid example from the front pages of the news in the Age of Obama, the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a Obamacare) runs for 2,800 pages. Democratic House majority leader Nancy Pelosi famously predicted that we would have to pass the bill to find out what was in it. Pelosi was right in more ways than one. By one count published last year, the regulations implementing the act have consumed 10,000 closely printed pages of the Federal Register, at 30 times the length (in words) of the law passed by Congress.

Obamacare is but one example of bureaucratic runaway. Another more poignant and damaging example is the EPA.

This rogue agency has done more damage to the American economy than just about any other except the Federal Reserve, imposing draconian rules that have seriously affected industries and individuals alike with the regulatory overreach. Electricity shortages last winter in the US can be directly attributable to the forced closing of numerous coal-fired power plants, those closings brought about by over-the-top and poorly thought out regulations imposed by the EPA without the sanction of Congress and in some cases, in violation of court orders and lawsuit decisions that enjoined the EPA from imposing such regulations. What did the EPA do after losing those cases?

They doubled down on stupid, tightening the screws even more. I have a feeling we're going to see forced blackouts over the upcoming winter because much of the generating capacity lost with the shutdown of those plants was replaced with...nothing.

This scenario has been repeated with numerous other agencies writing regulations and laws that are not back up by legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President. I could list the same type of abuse after abuse by the various government agencies, but that could take hundreds of pages and weeks to put together.

It's time to put this abuse of power to a stop. If not, the very fabric of our society could end up being outlawed by some faceless bureaucrat who believes he/she knows better how to live our lives than we do. It must be remembered that bureaucracies have caused more civil strife, corrupted governments, and brought down entire societies than invading armies.


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