Unelected Bureaucrats are running, and in some cases ruining, our lives

We didn’t give them this power they took it. That’s how Glenn Reynolds starts his latest op-ed in USA Today, Unelected bureaucrats are running our lives:

Watching the ongoing clown show in Washington, Americans can be forgiven for asking themselves, “Why did we give this bunch of clowns so very much power over our nation and our lives?”

Well, don’t feel so bad, voters. Because you didn’t actually give them that much power. They just took it. That’s the thesis of Columbia Law Professor Philip Hamburger’s new book, The Administrative Threat, a short, punchy followup to his magisterial Is Administrative Law Unlawful? Both deal with the extraordinary — and illegitimate — power that administrative agencies have assumed in American life.

Hamburger explains that the prerogative powers once exercised by English kings, until they were circumscribed after a resulting civil war, have now been reinvented and lodged in administrative agencies, even though the United States Constitution was drafted specifically to prevent just such abuses. But today, the laws that actually affect people and businesses are seldom written by Congress; instead they are created by administrative agencies through a process of “informal rulemaking,” a process whose chief virtue is that it’s easy for the rulers to engage in, and hard for the ruled to observe or influence. Non-judicial administrative courts decide cases, and impose penalties, without a jury or an actual judge. And the protections in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (like the requirement for a judge-issued search warrant before a search) are often inapplicable.

As Hamburger writes, “Administrative power also evades many of the Constitution’s procedures, including both its legislative and judicial processes. Administrative power thereby sidesteps most of the Constitution’s procedural freedoms. Administrative power is thus all about the evasion of governance through law, including an evasion of constitutional processes and procedural rights.”

Of course, read the whole thing. Our liberty, our right to govern ourselves, and the order of our government is at stake.

  • Mary Jane Vogel-Friend

    Hasn’t Justice Thomas shown opposition to what he sees as the illegitimate power of unelected bureaucrats?

    • Yes, you are quite right.

      USA Today, October 21, 2016,

      After 25 years, Clarence Thomas still dissents

      Re: Thomas’ 25 years on the Supreme Court,

      That quarter-century is noteworthy for its focus on an arcane area of law — Thomas’ opposition to what he sees as the illegitimate power of unelected bureaucrats. He rejects a string of Supreme Court rulings that granted federal agencies deference to interpret laws and regulations.

      Randy Barnett, a constitutional law professor at Georgetown University Law Center, calls Thomas “a fearless originalist.”

      “He elevates the original meaning of the text above precedent,” Barnett says. “In other words, he puts the founders above dead justices.”

      If we had more Justices like Clarence Thomas we’d have a lot more freedom and common sense.

      NOTE: Beware the auto play video that will pop up a few seconds after you open the link above. Damn thing made me almost jump out of my skin.