We often think that the laws of this country are passed by Congress. Since Members of Congress are elected by the people, we assume that we have therefore indirectly consented to the laws that we must follow.
The reality is much different. Most federal law is created by the agencies and departments that make up the national bureaucracy, not by Congress. Congress passes laws delegating its legislative power to these agencies and departments, and they in turn develop the laws with which we must comply.
In fact, most of the “laws” of this country are made, executed, and applied by administrative agencies and departments. They operate under the radar, largely insulated from the control of the people.
The administrative state is the conglomeration of federal administrative agencies-whether executive agencies, executive departments, or independent regulatory commissions-that have become a “fourth branch” of government. Power has in effect been transferred from the representative, constitutional institutions-Congress, the President, and the courts-to administrative agencies and bureaucrats.
Although our civics textbooks still describe a government where Congress makes laws, the President executes laws, and courts adjudicate disputes, this is not the way our government actually works. Today, bureaucrats make law, execute law, and adjudicate. Although the laws made by agencies are called rules, they carry the force of law.
The administrative state is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution. Article I, section 1 of the Constitution states that all legislative powers shall be vested in Congress, yet Congress has transferred its powers to these agencies. Furthermore, the Constitution clearly requires the separation of powers, yet powers are combined in administrative agencies.
Finally, many agency personnel are unelected and unaccountable, despite the republican principles on which the Constitution is based.
The sooner we can extricate ourselves from this administrative state the sooner we’ll be able to get back to constitutional republican government.
For more on the administrative state, see Joseph Postell’s special report “From Administrative State to Constitutional Government”