Purple Wisconsin blogger Jim Rowen directs us to state Rep. Chris Taylor's diary of her attendance at the Chicago meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Conference. The left's obsession with ALEC as some kind of dark and secret conspiracy is, at best, silly and, at worst, a calculated bit of cynicism. Jim Rowen and Rep. Taylor know that there are many exchanges, forums and organizations that provide the type of networking and expertise for liberals that ALEC provides for conservatives. IF ALEC was operating in the "dark," it would have hardly have allowed Rep. Taylor into its bowels.
What struck me about Rep. Taylor's diary was her description of an exchange with someone promoting a constitutional amendment to require Congressional approval of federal regulations. She doesn't identify the man, but I am passingly familiar with the idea and pretty sure that I know who she spoke to. She's either missing the point or deliberately burying it.
Rep. Taylor seems to think that "regulatory reform" would be an odd thing to put in the Constitution and is something that "the people" would not - and should not - care about. She should pay a bit more attention to constitutional theory and history.
Over the past fifty years or so, there has been a judicial erosion of the so-called "non-delegation" doctrine. The doctrine formally states that Congress may not delegate legislative authority to administrative agencies. It is rooted in the recognition that it is Congress, the elected representatives of the people, who are to pass the laws and embodies the principle that democratic decision-making may not be frustrated by delegating this power to unelected federal agencies.
The problem is that the courts have not done very well in enforcing this principle, permitting Congress to authorize agency rule-making through broad directives that provide little guidance and few, in any limitations. In doing so, it has gutted the "anti-delegation" doctrine and gone a great way to "remove" the people from the process of making law. The agencies effectively determine policy by adopting regulations that have the force of law and that Congress never voted for.
Now if you want a lot of meddling by the federal government and ideological "experts" in our national life, this is no problem at all. Regulatory agencies, operating, for the most part, out of the spotlight and far more responsive to special interests and advocacy organizations than "the people," will manage to do things that could never get through Congress.
But to defend that view in the name of "the people' is passingly strange.
Cross posted at Purple Wisconsin