by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As appearing in the Daily Sentinel

Former Interior Secretary Dave Bernhardt’s new book, “You Report to Me,” is edifying for anyone trying to understand why government has become so intrusive, partisan, divisive, and dare I say, dysfunctional.

It is a first-hand backgrounder on the evolution of the “administrative state,” with eye-opening examples that beg the question, who is really in charge of federal agencies?

Congress deserves scorn for delegating its legislative powers to executive branch agencies, which promulgate regulations with the same force of law as acts of Congress. A “New Civil Liberties Alliance” report on the growth of “administrative law,” based on regulations imposed and enforced by executive branch agencies, concludes that “Americans accused of violations are now 10 times more likely to be tried by an unelected bureaucrat than by a federal judge.” Indeed, the constitutional lines separating the three branches of government are almost nonexistent.

In a recently published posthumous memoir, “American Amnesia,” Helen Krieble writes about the founders’ vision of a system of “checks and balances,” with the three branches having “carefully divided responsibilities… Congress legislates, the President administers, and the courts provide independent judgment in contested cases. But the federal system no longer works that way. Today, the executive branch not only administers, but also makes laws, and sits in judgment. The courts not only sit in judgment, but also make laws, and enforce their judgments. Meanwhile, Congress has delegated most of its legislative authority to executive branch agencies.”

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