Right Opinion

The Final Goal: Return to Constitutional Government

Guest Commentary · Jun. 5, 2018

By Zachary Rogers

“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined … [and] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.” —Federalist Paper No. 45

In celebrating what successes the Trump administration has achieved in deregulation, conservatives should not lose sight of the end goal: a return to constitutional government. The Founders crafted a limited government of enumerated powers based on the equality of men, natural rights, and the consent of the governed. By supplanting the rule of law and frustrating the structure of separated powers, the administrative state violates the principles of the Constitution. It flouts the separation of powers, combination of functions, and delegation of legislative authority, which was vested in Congress.

Congress has delegated legislative authority in an unconstitutional manner that allows it to elude difficult issues or unpopular policy decisions. Rather than pass legislation, it has allowed federal agencies to promulgate regulations governing citizens. Federal agencies pass regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act.

The Administrative Procedures Act was enacted by Congress in 1946 for the regulation of the federal rulemaking process. Rulemaking may be either informal or formal; informal rulemaking has been prevalent since the 1970s. In informal notice and comment, all that is required is for an agency to provide public notice of a proposed rule, receive public comment, and issue a statement of basis and purpose. Informal rulemaking is a serious and powerful threat to the liberty and rights of citizens. Unfortunately, agencies are required to go through the same process to deregulate as they must to regulate.

The Trump administration is in the process of rolling back agency regulations in accordance with the APA. While the administration has done some excellent work in lessening the burden upon Americans through deregulation, citizens should never forget that the current administrative state is inconsistent with the Constitution. Simple reform of the bureaucracy to make it more efficient is not enough.

The fight must be for the eternal truths the nation was founded upon and the limited government crafted upon those truths. The Constitution, based upon the principles of the Declaration, has shaped the regime, protecting citizens’ rights and liberties, and thereby shaped American society itself. To be ruled by another regime, an arbitrary one, is to jeopardize liberty itself. Conservatives concerned for liberty, the protection of natural rights, and the rule of law should never forget the final goal — a return to the regime established by the Constitution.

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