George Washington Univ. Law Prof. Johnathan Turley, writing at the Wapo, has had an epiphany:
[Our federal government] is dangerously off kilter. Our carefully constructed system of checks and balances is being negated by the rise of a fourth branch, an administrative state of sprawling departments and agencies that govern with increasing autonomy and decreasing transparency. . . .
This exponential growth has led to increasing power and independence for agencies. The shift of authority has been staggering. The fourth branch now has a larger practical impact on the lives of citizens than all the other branches combined.
The rise of the fourth branch has been at the expense of Congress’s lawmaking authority. In fact, the vast majority of “laws” governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats. One study found that in 2007, Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules, including 61 major regulations.
This rulemaking comes with little accountability. It’s often impossible to know, absent a major scandal, whom to blame for rules that are abusive or nonsensical. . . .
Welcome to the party Prof. Turley. Or as Stephen Heyward srites at Powerline of the professor, In Praise Of Slow Learners. As I wrote last year in a detailed post, End The Tyranny - Stop Regulation Without Representation, this as the single greatest systemic threat to our form of government.
To his credit, Prof. Turley concludes likewise:
In the new regulatory age, presidents and Congress can still change the government’s priorities, but the agencies effectively run the show based on their interpretations and discretion. The rise of this fourth branch represents perhaps the single greatest change in our system of government since the founding.
We cannot long protect liberty if our leaders continue to act like mere bystanders to the work of government.
The problem is that this is completely off the radar screen in our national discourse.