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IJ Brief Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Check the Administrative State

Did you know it’s a federal crime to sell wine with “Zombie” in its brand name? Unelected bureaucrats are responsible for countless ridiculous criminal laws like this one—and hundreds of thousands more that ruin people’s lives, liberties, and livelihoods.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to hear a case that could have a major impact on Congress’ practice of outsourcing its lawmaking powers to unaccountable bureaucrats. The case, Gundy v. United States, involves a narrow criminal statute—but IJ filed an amicus brief to show the profound implications the case could have for the size of the federal administrative state.

The elegant “checks and balances” system created by the Framers is broken. It’s supposed to be the legislative branch’s job to make laws and the executive branch’s job to enforce them. Instead, Congress routinely outsources to the president the power to write the very laws that the president himself enforces. Too often, Congress delegates its powers to avoid accountability. As a result, in 2016, unelected bureaucrats in the executive branch issued 18 times more regulations than Congress—and those regulations cost $1.9 trillion or more.

For more than 80 years, the Supreme Court has let this breach of separation of powers go unchecked, an outrageous example of judicial abdication. IJ’s Center for Judicial Engagement has been leading the charge to persuade courts to take constitutional limits on the size and scope of government seriously. Gundy is the first time since 1935 that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether Congress unconstitutionally delegated its lawmaking power to the president, and it could be an important step forward in the fight for judicial engagement.

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