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Senator Lankford: Courts Are Giving Federal Agencies Too Much Power

WASHINGTON, DC – The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, under the chairmanship of Senator James Lankford (R-OK), today held a hearing on how the Chevron doctrine has affected the regulatory process, judicial review and federal balance of power. The hearing testimony confirmed that Chevron deference favors centralized executive power over legislative and judicial prerogatives, shifting our constitutional system’s balance of powers.

The 1984 landmark Supreme Court ruling of Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council established a legal test for determining whether to grant deference to a federal agency’s interpretation of a statute that it administers. The ruling created the framework allowing courts to defer to reasonable agency interpretations of ambiguous statutory text, independent of the court’s judgment.  

“The Chevron doctrine has shifted the federal system’s balance of power,” said Chairman Lankford. “As the administrative state has grown and the issues we face have become more complex, courts has given federal agencies too much power. When courts stop saying what the law is, bureaucrats are eager to interpret, enforce and expand the law on their own.  It is important for Congress to correct this imbalance by passing legislation that ensures that the legislative branch makes laws, not federal agencies.”

Senators Lankford and ten other Senators also introduced a bill today, the Separation of Powers Restoration Act, which would eliminate Chevron deference, and reinstate the balance of powers as envisioned by our Founders.

On April 28, 2015, this Subcommittee held a hearing to examine the proper role of judicial review in the regulatory process and the proper amount of deference afforded to federal agencies by federal courts. The witnesses for today’s hearing included legal experts Charles J. Cooper, George Mason Law Professor, Neomi Rao and Cardozo School Law Professor Michael Herz.

CLICK HERE to read the hearing opening statements and view the full hearing video. CLICK HERE to view video of Senator Lankford’s opening statement.