This episode of What’s Ahead analyzes how the recent Supreme Court decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency struck a magnificent blow against unbridled, unaccountable bureaucratic power. It decisively declared that the EPA has vastly exceeded its authority regarding power plants and their use of fossil fuels. Before an agency can issue rules that have a major impact on society, it must have express authority from Congress to do so.
The EPA has hardly been alone over the years in its power overreach. Numerous other agencies have done the same.
This trend stemmed from an idea that emerged in the late 1800s that the Constitution was obsolete for the needs of a modern society. Woodrow Wilson, our 28th president, was a prime proponent of the belief that the Constitution had outlived its usefulness and ways had to be found to end-run it so we could be efficiently governed by experts.
Now the Supreme Court has thrown down the gauntlet: Unelected agencies can’t make big decisions unless Congress has authorized them to do so.