Long time readers will know that we’ve been very focused on the problem of the “administrative state,” an arcane term from political science that has in the last few years broken out big in everyday discussion. The administrative state refers to the trend, decades in the making, of transferring lawmaking power away from the legislative branch of government to permanent, unelected bureaucrats and executive agencies. The administrative state undermines a central principle of the Constitution—the separation of powers—and dilutes both responsibility and accountability, as well as putting government beyond the control and consent of the governed—”we, the people.”
I was delighted when my former AEI colleague Peter J. Wallison, who has extensive experience in the federal government (including serving as White House counsel for President Reagan), produced his own treatment of this problem. As Peter explains in his book, Judicial Fortitude: The Last Chance to Rein in the Administrative State, this constitutional decay came about because the judiciary abdicated its responsibility to defend the separation of powers decades ago, and Wallison argues why and how the Supreme Court needs to lead the way back to restoring the Constitution. In particular, in this conversation we explore the “non-delegation doctrine” and the effect of the “Chevron doctrine” in supercharging runaway and sometimes lawless government-by-bureaucracy. Judicial Fortitude is a wonderfully compact, quick-moving yet substance-rich introduction to this issue.