Subtitled: “How to find your best friend in law school.”
Back in 2005, when I was taking administrative law, our class discussed the fact that about 90% of our laws are made by administrative agencies, not by Congress. At one point during this discussion, I stuck my hand up in the air and said, “The problem is that we are not voting these people [agency heads, etc.] in, and if they make laws that we abhor, we can’t vote them out.” My professor said that we can vote out members of Congress if they keep appointing these problematic agency heads, or vote in Congressmen who promise to replace the agency heads. I replied that it was far too attenuated, and our Constitution is set up so that we vote for the people who make our laws, not vote for the people who appoint the people who make our laws.
My professor then said that it’s impractical to expect that Congress can make all the laws and the regulations that we have now: the federal government does too much. Immediately, a hand shot up in the air behind me, and dark-haired woman said, “If Congress doesn’t have time to regulate all of those things, maybe it’s because it shouldn’t be sticking its fingers in there anyway. The federal government is one of limited powers, and if Congress doesn’t have time to regulate something, maybe it shouldn’t be doing it anyway.”
At this point, the other 18 people in the class were rolling their eyes. The professor said something along the lines of, “Ladies, it’s been the law for over seventy years; let it go” – as if this were merely some abstract principle, not the essence of freedom and representative government.
Fast-forward to 2013. The dark-haired woman is one of my best friends, and we should open up a psychic business together. Today, in Instapundit, we have this:
Benghazi. The IRS targeting of conservative groups. Secret e-mail accounts used by top federal officials — such as former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and Labor Secretary nominee Tom Perez — to conduct official business. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s efforts to promote Obamacare with a private slush fund solicited from companies she regulates. Subpoenas for records of journalists. The NSA revelations.
How many warning signs — emerging virtually all at once — do we need to realize that the American people have lost control of their government? Not only that, but large sectors of the government have lost any ability to provide checks and balances or even monitor the bureaucracy.
Hey, I could have told you all of this as a 1L in 2005. I would also like to add to John Fund’s excellent article and point out that if administrative agencies didn’t exist, then some person in Congress would have to have approved these debacles – and that person’s career would be over in November of 2014. Fund says that Congress can no longer control the Leviathan bureaucracy; I think that has been true for eighty years, just to varying degrees of bad results.