Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bureaucracy: The World Ends, Not in Fire or Ice, but in Mire and Muck

In ratifying the Constitution, the States set up three governmental units that make up the federal government: The Legislative Branch, The Executive Branch, and the Judicial Branch. In terms, the Constitution strictly limits the nature and kinds of authority delegated to each branch:
-- All legislative power donated by the States to create the federal government is deposited in the Legislative Branch.
 -- All executive power donated by the States to create the federal government is deposited in the Executive Branch.
 -- All judicial power donated by the States to create the federal government is deposited in the Judicial Branch.
The Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch are often described as the "political branches." That classification reflects the fact that positions held within the branch are subject to election. The judicial branch offices are only political in a derivative sense, in that those that hold judicial office are appointed by, and confirmed by, those that are elected.

Now, there is a fiction that allows this extra-constitutional legislative imposition by regulation. The Supreme Court has opined in its cases that there is a small space of delegation permitted under the Constitution (although no clause of the Constitution expressly so states). Oddly, that space allowing administrative regulations has resulted in the creation of some 200 volumes of permanent regulations. But, under that view, the Congress delegates some legislative power to the Executive Branch to make particular regulations within a statutory framework.

The deep penetration of the federal government into the daily lives of Americans does not, actually, take place directly at the hands of Congressmen, Senators, Presidents, or Judges. Rather, the intruding hand of the federal government in the typical American's life is that of a bureaucrat. Not elected, not responsive politically to the will of the people, the bureaucrat is the faceless, nameless, stone upon which the American nose is ground down.

Now, typically, those bureaucrats are not even directly enforcing STATUTE laws enacted by Congress. Instead, they are enforcing REGULATIONS adopted by administrative agencies that are part of the Executive Branch. But the Constitution gives ZERO Legislative (that is, law making) power to the Executive Branch.

So you see, your tax filings that must comply with IRS rules and regulations, your park use applications that must comply with National Park Service regulations, your new drug application that must comply with FDA rules and regulations, ALL THESE, and AND ALL OTHER FEDERAL REGULATIONS that importune you, deprive you of liberty, constrain choices, impose costs, reduce effectiveness, they have not been imposed on you and me in the manner contemplated by the Constitution. 

In a recent case involving Amtrak imposition of regulations on other rail carriers -- a power to regulate that Amtrak got from Congress when Congress created the National Railway Passenger Corporation (Amtrak's true name) -- Justice Clarence Thomas expressed concerns about the problem of the regulatory state under our Constitution's separation of powers. 
Congress has permitted a corporation subject only to limited control by the President to create legally binding rules. These rules give content to private railroads’ statutory duty to share their private infrastructure with Amtrak. This arrangement raises serious constitutional questions to which the majority’s holding that Amtrak is a governmental entity is all but a non sequitur. These concerns merit close consideration by the courts below and by this Court if the case reaches us again. We have too long abrogated our duty to enforce the separation of powers required by our Constitution. We have overseen and sanctioned the growth of an administrative system that concentrates the power to make laws and the power to enforce them in the hands of a vast and unaccountable administrative apparatus that finds no comfortable home in our constitutional structure. The end result may be trains that run on time (although I doubt it), but the cost is to our Constitution and the individual liberty it protects. 
Among the consequences of such a construction, as Justice Thomas notes, Congress may forego its responsibilities with respect to making laws, expanding the nature and scope of executive power, while, at the same time, because of its own indolence in strenuously examining such regulatory actions.

These are "known knowns." The question for you is, does your Constitution do this? Or is that the false Constitution of usurpers of the public will?