In the wake of the Biden administration’s recent efforts to use federal agencies to regulate on matters outside their jurisdiction, legal experts are expressing dismay at what they say is a pattern of unconstitutional overreach by Biden’s government in order to achieve political ends.
Last year, the Biden administration moved forward with a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule that threatened to pull federal funding for school lunches from schools that did not adopt the administration’s new interpretation of Title IX, which specified that the prohibition on discrimination based on sex must “include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” Observers noted that a program designed to help feed low-income children was now being entangled with a policy rooted in highly controversial gender ideology.
In December, a group of 21 Republican state attorneys general filed suit against the Biden administration after it finalized another federal rule through the Department of Transportation (USDOT) which required states to create benchmarks for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R) called the rule “another unlawful and overreaching regulation,” and the attorneys general pointed out that Congress had not given the USDOT authority to regulate emissions or to direct how states must roll out their policy decisions.
On Thursday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) pointed to numerous further examples of the Biden administration’s overreach on “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins.”
“One of the things people ought to pay attention to is the phrase ‘whole of government,’” he noted. “You’re starting to hear this from bureaucrats and politicians in Washington over and over again. That should be a red flag for you when you hear ‘whole of government.’ … It’s kind of a code that they’re going to use [in order for] agencies that have absolutely nothing to do with the thing at hand to try to accomplish something that they don’t have authority to do.”
“For example,” Yost continued, “the Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] is there to regulate the stock markets and stock trading and commodities trading. They publish rules, and it’s a regulatory agency — pretty dry and dusty. Well, under the whole of government approach, the Biden administration is using them to try to enter into fossil fuels and energy policy and climate change. What does the SEC and stock markets have to do with whether we drive electric cars or not or fossil fuel development?”
Yost further pointed to a November 2021 rule the Biden administration attempted to implement through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). “They tried to get OSHA involved in the COVID wars. OSHA is all about [having] guardrails around the catwalks. Let’s make sure that there’s safety features around the vats of acid so that workers don’t get hurt. They tried to use that department and that authority to make sure that every employee of a company that had more than 100 employees, which was over 80 million Americans, had to have the vaccine … if they wanted the government’s permission to work. The Supreme Court knocked it down … but it’s that whole of government mindset where they try to take every bureaucratic alphabet soup agency to do something that [it] was never designed to do.”
Yost went on to underscore the importance of the American court system in maintaining the rule of law going forward. “We have to rely on the genius of the Founders, the separation of powers. The courts and Congress both have the ability to rein in an overreaching executive. Congress hasn’t been too interested in doing that of late. But fortunately, in a lot of places, courts are doing their jobs as attorneys general are going to court and challenging these things.”
“We have to realize we’re in a battle,” Yost concluded. “This is not a civil debate. … These folks don’t care about the norms. They don’t care about the rules or the rule of law. We are in a pitched battle, and we need everybody to help.”
Perkins concurred. “We’ve got to be informed. We’ve got to be voting. We’ve got to be engaged, making sure that we have those that respect the rule of law [in office] because our system doesn’t work without that.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.
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