It’s time to dismantle the 'fourth branch'
July 11, 2016 | Julia Slingsby
Today, the House will vote on an important bill that reins in the executive branch and takes back Congress’s legislative power.
It’s a story we know too well: Unelected bureaucrats have become so powerful as to become in practice a “fourth branch” of government, essentially creating new laws through aggressive rulemaking. This is not constitutional. Regulations must be based off of law that Congress, accountable to the people, passes. As Speaker Ryan has said over and over again, “The Constitution is clear. Presidents don’t write laws. Congress does.”
The Separation of Powers Restoration Act (SOPRA) curbs the unchecked power of the regulators and stops this unconstitutional “fourth branch” that doesn’t answer to the American people.
But how did we even get here? A 1984 Supreme Court case created the “Chevron deference,” a legal precedent that says courts should typically defer to executive branch agencies when disputes about ambiguous laws arise. At the time, the Court never could have conceived of today’s executive overreach, especially by this administration. Now, wherever you turn, Obama’s agencies are creating new regulations that have literally reshaped the country. Take the Obama administration’s clean power plant rule, which would cripple America’s coal industry.
The Obama administration claims that this and others like it are simply interpretations of old laws, but this doesn’t even pass thelaugh test. Good thing, because this is no laughing matter. These countless regulations have serious, disastrous consequences for the country. But because these bureaucrats hide behind the Chevron deference, it makes them almost impossible to stop.
As Speaker Ryan explained, “For too long, the Court has given deference to the executive branch in interpreting laws. This deference empowers nameless, faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats to re-write laws and attach meaning that was never Congress’s intent. With this legislation, we are clamping down on this practice—and taking a first step toward restoring power to Congress and, more importantly, to the voters who send us here.”
It’s time to dismantle this “fourth branch” of government. The Separation of Powers Restoration Act, an important part of our Better Way plan to restore the Constitution, repeals the Chevron deference, revoking this dangerous precedent of giving unelected bureaucrats in Washington the benefit of the doubt. They certainly have lost that privilege.