Tag Archive for: Attorneys General

Legal Experts Sound Alarm on Biden Admin’s Pattern of ‘Unlawful Overreach’

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.”

AUTHOR

Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Meta Is ‘Manipulating Platforms to Make Kids More Addicted’: State AG

In the wake of strong evidence pointing to the link between the declining mental health of young people and the rise of addictive social media sites, 41 state attorneys general have filed suit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, for manipulative business practices that they say intentionally target kids in order to ensnare them in social media addiction.

In October, 41 states and the District of Columbia filed litigation against Meta as reports of record high levels of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and suicide, continue to surface. Studies have shown that American teenagers have experienced a significant rise in depression over the last two decades, as the share of teens experiencing major depressive episodes steadily rose from 7.9% in 2006 to 14.4% in 2018. Since then, the persistent increase has continued unabated. In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that three out of five teenage girls felt depression and one in three had seriously considered suicide in 2021.

As psychologists such as Jean Twenge have observed, the rapid increase in youth mental health issues has dovetailed almost exactly with the ubiquitous rise of smartphones and social media apps. Twenge’s most recent book “Generations” details how Generation Z’s skyrocketing use of social media directly correlates with less time spent in person with friends, less sleep, and increased loneliness.

The issue has become so alarming to health officials that in May, the U.S. Surgeon General released an unprecedented advisory warning that social media use poses a “profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”

As a result, public officials have decided that studies and advisories are not enough — they believe that the architects of social media themselves must claim some amount of responsibility for the crisis. On Tuesday, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) joined “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” to discuss the litigation he has filed against Meta.

“We’ve exposed the manipulative practices of the Meta platform that designed features in order to make kids addicted,” he contended. “And lo and behold, screen time is bad for kids. And I think one of the problems here is that Meta has hidden their head in the sand and refused to obtain data or scientific studies to measure the negative harmful impacts on kids, and deprived the public of access to that information. … [T]hey were manipulating their platform[s] to make kids more addicted, [and] they were doing it to obtain personal information to maximize their profits. And it’s putting kids at risk.”

Bailey went on to argue that Meta’s actions specifically violated his state’s consumer protection laws.

“The mental and emotional impact of the addictive features of Big Tech social media platforms, specifically Meta in this instance, have been immediately impactful on children in a harmful way, and it violates the consumer protection laws of the state of Missouri,” he asserted. “[T]he platform is depriving parents of access to information necessary upon which to make good decisions about the health and safety of their children when they’re there, fraudulently attempting to make the kids addicted to the platform that violates the law, and we’re going to hold them accountable.”

Bailey further observed that the litigation showcases a rare example of bipartisanship, in which a coalition of 41 Republican and Democrat state AGs are coming together to put pressure on Meta for allegedly harming the mental health of children.

“[C]hild safety should be a bipartisan issue,” he underscored. “I’m proud to have joined with like-minded colleagues in other states that want to put the safety of children first and hold wrongdoers in the Big Tech social media world accountable. And certainly we’ve seen a repeated pattern of behavior from Meta, not only to abuse children in this context and to deprive the public of access to information, but to violate our constitutional rights to free speech by acquiescing to government censorship demands. … [T]his is a full court press, all hands on deck approach to make sure we’re holding this monolithic monopoly accountable.”

The Missouri attorney general also highlighted specific goals that the state litigation seeks, including monetary compensation for victims. “We … think there should be some monetary compensation for the victims,” he maintained. “We’ve got to build a fund to study this problem, figure out how bad it is, the negative emotional and mental impacts on kids, and make sure that they’re treated and taken care of in the aftermath of this fraudulent behavior.”

Bailey concluded by pointing out the parallels in the social media case with the evidence that was uncovered in the 1990s of tobacco companies attempting to hide evidence of the addictive nature of their products. “I think history will look back on this moment in time and celebrate that we took a stand to protect children against this pernicious behavior very quickly.”

AUTHOR

Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.