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house Bill H.R. 4768

Does Our System of Checks and Balances Need to Be Rebalanced?

Argument in favor

This bill will prevent unelected officials from interpreting statutes with political bias. It will protect the American people from an overly powerful presidential administration, and rebalance the checks and balances built into our Constitution.

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06/21/2016
For too long have the executive and judicial branch been bypassing the legislative branch, which is the closest extension of the people's will. If we want to claim to be a republic, we need to begin to act like it.
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BTSundra's Opinion
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06/24/2016
I'm tired of political bias affecting the plain language of the Constitution.
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06/24/2016
The process of determining ambiguity in law has traditionally been determined in court, where deliberation is inherent and lawyers are free to- and often do- have experts in the particular field being discussed testify for or against a certain ruling. This is the most democratic process we have, save to correct such ambiguities in Congress or in the several states, to ensure that all laws are fair, sound, and ensure justice. Federal agencies exist only to enforce legislative and executive decisions (when they don't contradict each other), not to create their own laws.
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Argument opposed

Federal agencies serve as the experts in their fields, and are the most qualified to interpret federal laws into policy. This bill would overwhelm the courts with cases, and overlooks the fact that judges can be just as politically biased as agency officials.

HanSolo's Opinion
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07/11/2016
The constitution is not clearly written and was meant to be a living document that can be amended and changed based on the times. It was written before we had cars, modern guns, the Internet, etc. and the federal agencies that have been set up to protect citizens act as experts in each field that carry out research and development of a better society. As for getting rid of bias, what we really need to do is get big MONEY and RELIGION out of matters of State, just as the founders intended it. "One nation under God" was added in the 1950s, and there is more corporate money being fed into politics than ever before. Those are the things that truly cause these negative outcomes.
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Ryan's Opinion
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07/11/2016
This bill is a partisan effort to restrict the administrative authority of the Obama and soon Clinton administrations. It's a actually a less practical and less democratic solution to a somewhat nonexistent problem. Reasonably Interpreting and implementing laws is exactly what the executive branch is intended to do.
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Robert's Opinion
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06/24/2016
Our constitution is fine it has stood the test of time - don't let the tea party or neocons touch it
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
  • The house Passed July 12th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 240 Yea / 171 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law
    IntroducedMarch 16th, 2016

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What is House Bill H.R. 4768?

This bill aims to redistribute some power that belongs to federal agencies, and give that power to the judicial system.

In a 1984 decision referred to as the Chevron doctrine, the Supreme Court ruled that the courts should generally allow the appropriate administrative agency to interpret an “ambiguous” statute from Congress. So if a health-related law is unclear, the Department of Health and Human Services is in charge of setting the specific policy — as long as the department’s interpretation of Congress' intent is “reasonable.”

This bill would overturn the Chevron doctrine by clarifying the Administrative Procedures Act to state that courts, not agencies, are in charge of interpreting ambiguities.

Impact

Federal agencies and their employees, Courts, Congress, President Obama, Presidential candidates, the American people

More Information

In Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Ratcliffe (R-TX) criticized the current power of federal agencies in a press release announcing the bill:

“We’ve already seen unelected bureaucrats try to tell people what kind of light bulbs they can buy, attempt to regulate puddles in people’s backyards and fail immensely at taking over Americans’ healthcare. We must ensure the integrity of our three co-equal branches of government, and this legislation will stop administrative agencies from taking powers the Constitution does not give them.”


However, Alan Morrison, professor and administrative law expert at George Washington University, told the Daily Signal that it makes sense for agencies to set policy within their fields of expertise. He argued the repeal of the Chevron doctrine will lead to more confusion and litigation:

“In the face of inevitable uncertainty, because human beings write laws, should we assume all those disputes go to court, or that a significant number should be resolved by politically accountable agency people? If the EPA, for example, interprets a law in an expansive way, and people don’t like it, people can vote the EPA out. You can’t get rid of judges. They are there for life.”


Of Note: Ratcliffe and other congressional republicans believe the Obama administration has over-relied on the Chevron doctrine in efforts to push through large-scale initiatives like the Affordable Care Act. In a letter in support of the bill, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform wrote:

“For the past seven years, the Obama administration has run riot, ignoring Congress and the will of the people again and again. Bureaucrats have continually made up the rules as they go along when it comes to implementing and interpreting laws, with little or no consequence.”


Media:

Summary by Katie Rose Quandt
(Image Credit: US government/ Wikimedia Commons)

AKA

Separation of Powers Restoration Act of 2016

Official Title

To amend title 5, United States Code, to clarify the nature of judicial review of agency interpretations of statutory and regulatory provisions.

    For too long have the executive and judicial branch been bypassing the legislative branch, which is the closest extension of the people's will. If we want to claim to be a republic, we need to begin to act like it.
    Like (59)
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    The constitution is not clearly written and was meant to be a living document that can be amended and changed based on the times. It was written before we had cars, modern guns, the Internet, etc. and the federal agencies that have been set up to protect citizens act as experts in each field that carry out research and development of a better society. As for getting rid of bias, what we really need to do is get big MONEY and RELIGION out of matters of State, just as the founders intended it. "One nation under God" was added in the 1950s, and there is more corporate money being fed into politics than ever before. Those are the things that truly cause these negative outcomes.
    Like (56)
    Follow
    Share
    I'm tired of political bias affecting the plain language of the Constitution.
    Like (43)
    Follow
    Share
    This bill is a partisan effort to restrict the administrative authority of the Obama and soon Clinton administrations. It's a actually a less practical and less democratic solution to a somewhat nonexistent problem. Reasonably Interpreting and implementing laws is exactly what the executive branch is intended to do.
    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
    The process of determining ambiguity in law has traditionally been determined in court, where deliberation is inherent and lawyers are free to- and often do- have experts in the particular field being discussed testify for or against a certain ruling. This is the most democratic process we have, save to correct such ambiguities in Congress or in the several states, to ensure that all laws are fair, sound, and ensure justice. Federal agencies exist only to enforce legislative and executive decisions (when they don't contradict each other), not to create their own laws.
    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
    Our constitution is fine it has stood the test of time - don't let the tea party or neocons touch it
    Like (7)
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    The Constitution is just fine. The system works very well when the system is actually used and also before it was changed (looking at you 16th and 17th Amendments ).
    Like (6)
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    It's obvious not many here spouting rhetoric even read the bill or what it was really about. Just saw the headline and blurb and went off! This pretty much says if Congress passes a bill and something in the bill is ambiguous or not explained in detail that the decision on what was meant falls on the shoulders of the federal agency responsible for implementing the bill. This bill says instead of that lets take all the muddy bills to court and let them decide! Stupidity is what that is. I can see this causing red tape and backlogs in our courts because we all know how congress loves to write bills that obfuscate!
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    Federal agencies should have the authority to do what they were designed to do. I think a scientist at the department of energy or environmental protection agency is more qualified than a judge with no such background.
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    FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon commented: “The constitutional separation of powers has been eviscerated by an ever-expanding web of unaccountable federal regulatory agencies that has usurped power from the people and their elected representatives in Congress and the states. This endangers our personal freedoms and costs the American economy about $2 trillion a year.” “The Separation of Powers Restoration Act is an important step towards restoring the balance of power by forcing the unelected bureaucrats in Washington to abide by the laws enacted by Congress rather than pursuing their own ideological agendas through fanciful interpretations of federal statutes. This bill is an essential part of the Article I Project, which seeks to restore the separation of powers by reasserting Congress’s constitutional authority.”
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    48% of our poor believe Government is the source of their golden apple. Government provides illegals with housing, health insurance and food for each family member. And if you know another illegal working at a EBT store where liquor is also sold, you can purchase Cerveza.
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    If the congress wants to allow the executive branch to have Chevron deference, it can always include such a provision in bills it passes.
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    We just need the government to follow constitution. Rules are already in place.
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    We need less government, not a redistribution of powers. The redistribution of power by any of the three branches is not constitutional. How about a bill that instead of redistribution of power diminishes power? Vote no!
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    H€!! Yeah they do! In a nutshell, this will STOP OBAMA TOO! (Read the OF NOTE at the end by Ratcliffe)
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    The Constitution, though quite clear in all aspects, has been politically twisted by SCOTUS for years. Many rulings on Constitutionality are completely ridiculous.
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    Obama thinks he's a king and can go around congress.. Yes
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    Long overdue. The executive branch has become far too powerful
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    All arguments in favour are generic blends of unspecific complaints that seem to be more about perception than reality. "I'm upset that Obama's in office, take away more of his powers." If you're unhappy about how agencies have been used, vote in the next election because how they've been used during Obama's administration is not unconstitutional and people need to stop throwing around that word to describe policies or approaches to politics that they don't like. It's hard to have a discussion about policies when we throw around political buzz words carelessly
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    This law was hard for me to understand due to the fact that it alters the law in such a minut way. However the key to this revision to the existing law is that it would require courts to conduct a “de novo” review of each law, rather than leaving this up to the discretion of the Federal bureaucracy.
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