Supreme Court Rules Bureaucrats Can Set Their Own Power Limits; No Bureaucrats Find Any

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The Latest from Seton Motley | Less Government |
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There’s a whole lot of federal government overreaching going on.  To itemize but some of it….

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) overreached again and again – blocking and/or dragging their feet on Conservative non-profit applications while fast-tracking Leftist ones.

The State Department overreached on Benghazi – repeatedly redacting the facts and making up out of whole cloth a video excuse.

The Justice Department overreached in persecuting journalists – demanding and seizing large swaths of the phone records, emails and other information of (at least?) the Associated Press (AP) and Fox News.

Attorney General Eric Holder himself signed on to the egregious naming of Fox News reporter James Rosen as a possible “espionage” “co-conspirator” so as to justify that particular intimidation power grab.

And President Barack Obama has now placed Holder in charge of investigating…himself.  Talk about power grab self-determination.

And herein lies an additional, huge problem.  Justice’s data-grab court hearings took place without the accused in the room.  Justice unilaterally decided they wanted the information – and then went and got it.

The AP wasn’t even notified.  The Administration claims it notified Fox News – Fox News begs to differ.  Neither the AP nor Fox was given an opportunity to contest Justice’s charges against them – and if Fox had in fact been notified, don’t you think they would have insisted?

This is Justice (and the IRS, and State, and…) determining the limits of its own power.  And apparently not finding any.  Which is terribly dangerous for an alleged Constitutional republic.  (And in fact why the Constitution does not allow it.)

And now the United States Supreme Court has given the pretty-much-do-whatever-you-want green light to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – and just about every other Commission, Department, Agency and Board.

On Monday, the Supreme Court announced its decision in the case of Arlington v. FCC….

(T)he issue was whether federal courts or federal bureaucrats should decide how much power federal bureaucrats have when Congress has been ambiguous on the question.

Everyone agrees, except perhaps the current administration, that federal agencies have only those powers delegated to them by Congress.  In the 1984 Chevron case, the Supreme Court held that where Congress’ intent with respect to delegated powers is clear, the courts must enforce that intent, but where Congress was “silent or ambiguous” with respect to the scope of those powers, the courts must defer to the bureaucrats’ “permissible construction[s]” of the statute.

And so in Arlington the majority sided with the Federal Communications Commission.

So the bureaucrats themselves get to decide how much power they have – and Big Government Leftists everywhere rejoice.  Especially with this Administration calling these shots.

The Media Marxists are particularly giddy, thinking this means the FCC’s ridiculous Network Neutrality overreach – subject to a late-fall-or-early-winter D.C. Circuit Court review – will be allowed to stand.

This should be a wishful thinking bridge-too-far – for a few reasons.

The FCC already tried once before to impose Net Neutrality – and the very same D.C. Circuit Court unanimously dumped it.

Court: FCC Has No Power to Regulate Net Neutrality

If you want judicial precedent – more directly tied to the subject at hand, and from the same Court again making the decision – there it is.

The Media Marxists grasping at this Supreme straw miss a crucial distinction.  As terrible as the Arlington ruling was, in it the Majority said that an agency could make its own power-parameter-determination when the law was ambiguous.

Net Neutrality law isn’t ambiguous – it’s absent.  Non-existent.  Congress has never granted the FCC the power in anything it has ever passed.

The Obama Administration’s FCC all but admitted this in the lead-up to their Net Neutrality imposition.  They seriously contemplated the notion of unilaterally moving the Internet into a whole different regulatory framework – so as to then “allow” them to impose Net Neutrality.

They ultimately didn’t do it – but why did they think they had to at least consider it?  And why three years later is the order to do it still open?  Because they know they don’t have the legal authority under the law as written.   (They don’t have the authority to move it either – but why should that stop them?)

No ambiguity there.  Thus the Arlington decision isn’t a precedent for anything at all here.

The Obama Administration is already overreaching by leaps and bounds.  And was in Arlington given tacit permission to continue – and do so even more.

In the hearings looking into their nearly all-encompassing malfeasance, we have again and again heard from Administration officials at the center of it all – “I didn’t know.”

With this Court ruling, bureaucrats everywhere now have a new one-liner get-out-of-culpability-free card for overreaching power grabs – “I wasn’t sure.”

Thankfully, when it comes to Net Neutrality, there is no such ambiguity.  Here’s hoping the D.C. Circuit Court again remembers that.