Monday, March 6, 2017

Jonathon Turley testimony regarding the Chevon Doctrine

Professor Turley's testimony before Congress on the Chevron Doctrine is super wonky, the kind of subject normally interesting to only the geekiest of public administration geeks.  Turley's comments are certainly more restrained and cerebral than breathy conspiratorial whispering about "The Deep State."

The vast and intractable administrative state is a problem.  But equally so is the abdication of power by the judicial and legislative branches.  Most know from 7th grade social studies that the Founding Fathers created three branches of government (arguably two, with the third emerging in the aftermath of Marbury v. Madison). 

The "checks-and-balances" of this system have always been imperfect, but never so flawed as the last half century.  There has been a massive shift of power to the executive branch and its administrative agencies, beyond the wildest dreams of even the most imperial former presidents.  Federal agencies create de facto laws (in the form of regulations), enforce them, and adjudicate them, often with no meaningful public or legislative oversight.

In his testimony, Turley said:

"I come to this issue as someone who often agrees and supports the work of federal agencies.  Indeed, law professors have a natural affinity toward agencies, which are usually directed by people with advanced degrees and public service values. The work of federal agencies is critical to the preservation of our health and security as a nation.  This is not a debate about the importance of the work of the agencies, but rather the accountability of agencies in carrying out that work.  The agreement with the work of agencies – or for that matter with this Administration as a whole – should not blind us to the implications of the growing influence and independence of federal agencies."

I like this.  Public service is honorable work; public servants are usually honorable people.  Supporting the work and the individuals, however, should not allow public administrators to turn a blind eye to the dangers posed by the leviathan administrative state and a debasement of the separation of powers.

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