Clarence Thomas on the Administrative State
Our nation is in a battle for its very soul, and the intercessors are needed to help in the fight through prayer and action.
From The Federalist. During his tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas has questioned the constitutional basis with respect to the growth of the administrative state, whereby a federal agency amasses legislative, executive, and judicial de facto powers. He has raised concerns that this development is contrary to the Founders intentional design in the Constitution to separate the powers of those three branches, and this amassing of power is a threat to our liberty….
The following interview is an excerpt from “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” where Thomas unpacks his views on the administrative state and much more.
Michael Pack: Let me ask you about another set of issues that have come up. You’ve been a leader in the administrative state cases. What is at stake there? It seems to be a question of liberty again.
Clarence Thomas: The very people who say they don’t want the government in their lives want this sort of expansive administrative state, which is in their lives, and then every aspect of their lives. And a lot of it comes at the expense of the very structure of the Constitution that is intended to prevent the government from coming in. The separation of powers, the enumerated powers, federalism. The whole point was to keep the government in this box. Justice Scalia and I often talked about that, that the structure was the main way to protect your liberty. The danger in the administrative state is seeing those powers all coalesce again in various agencies. If you think about your life today, there’s very little major legislation that comes from the legislature. The legislation comes in the form of regulations from agencies. They tend to have all three powers. They have the executive power, the enforcement power, they have administrative judges to adjudicate, so they have all three. And the question for us is, where do they fit in the constitutional structure?…
MP: I think it was James Madison who said that if you combine the executive, legislative, and judicial in one person, or branch, it’s the very definition of tyranny.
CT: That’s wonderful rhetoric, and it plays out that way when people look at agencies, and they think, “Of course I have no way to defend myself against an agency.” And what we have simply been trying to do is to raise the question of what are the limits of that. … But at least when you look back at guys like [Frank] Goodnow or Woodrow Wilson or the Progressives at the close of the nineteenth century and in the early twentieth century, at least you have the advantage of them being candid. To some extent, they meant “progress”—to progress beyond the Constitution….
MP: They were clear, too, that they believed in experts and agencies rather than in traditional legislating by elected members of Congress.
CT: I think to some extent they thought that the quaint ideas that the Framers had were anachronistic, at best, and that you could have someone who understood how a government should operate or how a policy should operate. … And I think the stark choices are between government by consent and being ruled….
How are you praying for an end to the administrative state and the preservation of our Constitution? Share your thoughts and prayers below.
(Excerpt from The Federalist. Photo Credit: Getty Images)
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