Administrative state

Acosta DOL authorizes spying on employers via drones

Featured image Alex Acosta’s Labor Department has authorized OSHA inspectors “to use camera-carrying drones as part of their inspections of outdoor workplaces.” So reports Bloomberg Law, linking to a May 18, 2018 DOL memorandum obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The memorandum requires inspectors to “obtain express consent from the employer” before using a drone, thus likely avoiding a Fourth Amendment problem. However, as prominent labor lawyer and former DOL »

Environmental law and the Constitution

Featured image Last week, I had the honor of attending the swearing-in of Jeff Clark as Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) of the Justice Department. Jeff was sworn in by Judge Danny Boggs for whom he clerked. Matthew Whitaker and Ron Rosenstein both spoke, as did Jeff Wood who was in charge of the ENRD for 21 months while Jeff waited for the Senate to confirm »

Trump nominates successor to Kavanaugh

Featured image Brett Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court created a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. I suspect that every star conservative lawyer in Washington under the age of, say, 52 had eyes on this seat. Today, President Trump nominated Neomi Rao to fill it. Rao currently serves as the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a Senate-confirmed job. She »

Deep State Outed by . . . The NY Times?!?!

Featured image As if we didn’t have enough explosive material flying around this week, the New York Times has just posted the following story: Rosenstein Suggested He Secretly Record Trump and Discussed 25th Amendment By Adam Goldman and Michael Schmidt WASHINGTON — The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed »

FDA comes to the aid of Big Tobacco and limousine liberals

Featured image Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) threatened to pull e-cigarettes from shelves if manufacturers do not control “widespread” teen use. Tobacco stocks surged on the news. Shares of Altria rose more nearly 7 percent to their best day since November, 2008. Philip Morris International increased about 3 percent. British American Tobacco shares increased nearly 6 percent to their best day since December, 2008. This is no coincidence. »

Ben Sasse for the Win

Featured image I wasn’t able to watch all of the Kavanaugh hearing, but I am prepared to give the Power Line award for best opening statement performance to Sen. Ben Sasse, who gave a great statement of the problem of the administrative state, which comprises the breakdown of the separation of powers and the dereliction of the responsibility of Congress to discharge its Article I powers properly. Democrats won’t want to take »

Who Controls the Executive Branch?

Featured image Under the Constitution, the President exercises all executive authority. But we do not live under the government that is described in the Constitution. We live in a society that is dominated by the Fourth Branch of government, the unelected bureaucracy that is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution. And the Fourth Branch is increasingly declaring its independence from the elected officials to whom it ostensibly reports–that is to say, from the »

Leftism by inaction at Acosta’s DOL

Featured image I have documented the fact that Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta studiously avoids making policy and personnel decisions that might alienate leftists. Because Acosta’s predecessor, Tom Perez, made the Labor Department a central player in President Obama’s quest radically to transform America, Acosta’s unwillingness to rock the boat is a major victory for the left. The Administrative Review Board (ARB) epitomizes Acosta’s passivity. The ARB is, in effect, the Labor »

ALJs: myths and realities

Featured image On July 10 of this year, the White House issued an executive order giving agency heads the authority to select their own administrative law judges (ALJs). The Washington Post editorial board expresses concern that, under this executive order, political appointees will pick like-minded ALJs to better serve their agendas. The order threatens the independence and professionalism of those charged with overseeing thousands of administrative decisions a year, the Post’s editors »

Drain the swamp? Alex Acosta won’t even touch it.

Featured image As I have documented, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta studiously avoids making policy and personnel decisions that might alienate leftists. Inasmuch as Acosta’s predecessor, Tom Perez, made the Labor Department a central player in President Obama’s quest radically to transform America, Acosta’s unwillingness to rock the boat is scandalous. It constitutes a huge victory for the left. The Administrative Review Board (ARB) epitomizes Acosta’s passivity. The ARB is, in effect, »

Bureaucracy All the Way Down

Featured image People tend to think that bureaucracy is a problem of centralization—of power concentrated in Washington, DC, or in state capitals. I think the problem of bureaucracy is more cultural than organizational or doctrinal. The culture of bureaucracy has taken root in most local governments—the unit of government supposedly closest and most responsive to the people. Like the turtles in the probably apocryphal story of Bertrand Russell, it’s bureaucracy all the »

Our robed master Bates speaks

Featured image Paul Mirengoff frequently refers to “our robed masters” in the federal judiciary. Yesterday our robed master Bates of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia administered the latest in a series of legal defeats to the Trump administration’s effort to rescind the Obama administration’s unconstitutional program to regularize illegal immigrants by executive decree. The New York Times’s Miriam Jordan gives an account of the ruling in “U.S. »

A significant moment in administrative law

Featured image The Senate today voted to kill a five-year-old Obama administration “guidance” on making auto loans to minority borrowers. The House almost certainly will follow suit. The guidance, issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, took aim at a common industry practice whereby auto dealers mark up interest rates offered by finance companies. The finance companies set an interest rate based on objective criteria such as borrowers’ credit history and the »

Mulvaney responds to Warren

Featured image Today’s Wall Street Journal publishes a letter to the editor by OMB Director and Acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Mick Mulvaney. In the letter Mulvaney responds to the column by Senator Elizabeth Warren published in the Journal last week attacking his leadership of the CFPB. At NR, Ronald Rubin has another take on Warren’s column. Mulvaney’s letter seems to me a classic of the kind. I don’t think »

The Obama Department of Labor in its tenth year

Featured image I’ve written a series of posts about how the Department of Labor under Alex Acosta has barely lifted a finger to overturn the radical policies and practices of the Obama DOL. Acosta has left former president Obama’s Administrative Review Board, the DOL’s appellate court, in place. He has refused to disturb the pro-illegal immigrant polices of Obama and former DOL Secretary Tom Perez. Acosta changed the Obama administration’s interpretation of »

CRB: How the ruling class rules

Featured image The new (Winter) issue of the Claremont Review of Books is published today. Thanks to our friends at the Claremont Institute, I have read the new issue in galley to select three days’ worth of pieces to be submitted for the consideration of Power Line readers. The new issue is full of great reviews and essays. As always, wanting to do right by the magazine and by our readers, I »

Chai Feldblum’s EEOC

Featured image In December, the Senate was on the verge of confirming Chai Feldblum for another term as a commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Feldblum, a leading gay rights advocate, is the architect of the Obama administration’s aggressive LGBT policy. While strong conservative nominees, including ones for top positions at the Department of Justice, have been on hold for the better part of a year, Feldblum was all set to »