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Supreme Court Upholds Checks and Balances: 'Our Legislature Makes Our Laws, Not Unelected Bureaucrats'

07-01-2022
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US Capitol Senate

Unelected bureaucrats in the federal government have just received a big warning from the Supreme Court – stop trying to create major regulations without authorization from Congress. 

The Supreme Court's ruling on Thursday limited the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to set standards on greenhouse gas emissions for existing power plants. Democrats call it a major blow to fighting climate change while conservatives called the decision a victory for the Constitution. 

In the 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court's conservative majority ruled that only Congress has the power to create sweeping regulations that would limit emissions from power plants, not the EPA. 

In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, "A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body." 

The court's three liberals were led by Justice Elena Kagan in her dissent, saying, "The court appoints itself – instead of Congress or the expert agency – the decision-maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening." 

But the court did not take a position on what the correct environmental regulations should be. The justices only ruled on 'who' has the authority to make major policy decisions carrying significant economic impacts. On such decisions, like sweeping government rules, a regulatory agency cannot act alone and needs specific authorization from Congress. 

Todd Gaziano, director of the Center for the Separation of Powers at Pacific Legal Foundation, told CBN the Court's decision is a huge win for democracy.

"We have not outgrown the Constitution and especially the Constitution's protection," said Gaziano. "It is our legislature that makes our laws and not unelected bureaucrats.'

That decision will likely limit most-every bureaucratic arm of the Executive Branch from making sweeping new rules that could impact the entire country. The Court was very clear in stating that's the job of the Legislative Branch. 

Derrick Morgan, executive vice president for the Heritage Foundation, says the court's decision should be a relief to Americans who are struggling with surging electricity bills. 

"The EPA used a law from the 1970s that was meant to go after sources of pollution point-by-point," Morgan said. "Instead, they tried to completely remake the electricity grid of the United States. And the court said, 'you can't do that, absent from Congress saying you can.' They would have changed over the entire electricity grid, making electricity more expensive than it already is today."

The case against the EPA's action was brought by West Virginia's Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, representing roughly 20 Republican states along with coal and mining companies. 

"A lot of people are going to try to make this into an issue about climate change," Morrisey said. "This is about ensuring that Congress, not unelected bureaucrats, get to make the major decisions of the day." 

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