The Supreme Court Firebombs the Administrative State and Tells Congress to Get Off Its Butt and Work

CREDIT: Public Domain,

The past week has been the legal equivalent of the firebombing of Dresden for the administrative state. 

In short order, many of the reasons we gradually, like a frog in a pot of boiling water, transformed from citizens into subjects have been demolished.


Let's start with the big one: Loper Bright Enterprises vs. Raimondo. This case demolished the convenient fiction that citizens had no legal recourse to actions by federal agencies so long as some moron in the agency could be found to whom the agency action appeared reasonable. My colleague Joe Cunningham has that decision.

BREAKING: Supreme Court Issues Monumental Ruling on Chevron Deference โ€“ RedState

RedState covered that case in detail, as it was argued last year.


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SCOTUS Grants Review of Case That Will Gut the Federal Bureaucracy 

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In Loper, commercial fishermen were required to pay the salaries of federal employees who rode their ships and monitored their activities. Today's decision doesn't prevent agencies from making rules, but it doesn't prevent citizens from contesting those rules in court.

Along with Loper was Securities and Exchange Commission v. Jarkesy. My colleague Bonchie covered that case as it passed through the Fifth Circuit.


BACKGROUND: 5th Circuit Slaps Down Joe Biden's SEC, Liberals Promptly Lose Their Minds โ€“ RedState

The decision says that an agency cannot bring charges against someone for an offense and then prosecute the case before a non-Article III judge employed by that agency. This should have been self-evident to anyone of even moderate intelligence, but it took Justice Gorsuch to write in a concurrence that may be more interesting than Chief Justice John Robert's opinion, "The agency is free to pursue all of its charges against Mr. Jarkesy. And it is free to pursue them exactly as it had always done until 2010: In a court, before a judge, and with a jury." This takes questions that could result in deprivation of livelihood or fines out of the federal bureaucracy and puts them, rightfully, back in the courts.

RELATED: The Skinny on SCOTUS - 6-27-24 Edition: The Sleepers โ€“ RedState

The next two cases prevent the Department of Justice from cherry-picking random sentences from statutes and stringing them together to form a new law to trap the innocent. The first of these was Snyder vs. US. In this case, the Department of Justice strapped a statute to the rack and tortured it until it devised a way of prosecuting a citizen for what doesn't appear to be a criminal act.

But the bottom line is that, for all those reasons, any fair reader of this statute would be left with a reasonable doubt about whether it covers the defendantโ€™s charged conduct. And when that happens, judges are bound by the ancient rule of lenity to decide the case as the Court does today, not for the prosecutor but for the presumptively free individual.


As Justice Brett Kavanaugh observed, "Within constitutional bounds, Congress can always change the law if it wishes to do so. But since 1986, it has not, presumably because Congress understands that state and local governments may and often do regulate gratuities to state and local officials."


In Snyder v. US, Jackson's Dissent Is Red Meat for the Left to Chew On โ€“ RedState

The Skinny on SCOTUS - 6-26-24 Edition: Gratuities Aren't Bribes and Standing Is Tricky โ€“ RedState

And the big case that hit Friday was in a similar vein. The Department of Justice essentially edited the Sarbanes-Oxley statute to cover trespassing in the Capitol on January 6. My colleagues covered the prelude to today's decision.


SCOTUS Takes Up Obstruction Charge Appeal for J6 Defendant - Could Be Huge for Trump and Others โ€“ RedState

SO GOOD: During Oral Arguments, Justice Gorsuch Goes There on January 6th Defendants and Jamaal Bowman โ€“ RedState

Today, the Supreme Court declared the law to mean pretty much what it says, and the Department of Justice was not free to make up its own meaning to help punish people the current bunch in the White House and Justice Department hates.

In one of this term's most anticipated decisions, the Supreme Court has handed a major win to multiple defendants prosecuted in relation to January 6th. In a 6-3 decision delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court held that: "To prove a violation of ยง1512(c)(2), the Government must establish that the defendant impaired the availability or integrity for use in an official proceeding of records, documents, objects, or other things used in an official proceeding, or attempted to do so." Justice Amy Coney Barrett's dissent was joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

This holding reverses the D.C. Circuit, which had adopted a broader reading of the law in question to allow the charges against the defendant, Joseph Fischer, to go forward. The case will now return to the D.C. Circuit โ€” which must assess whether the indictment holds up in light of this new and narrower interpretation.


BACKGROUND: Supreme Court Hands Down Blockbuster Ruling in Case That Will Impact Multiple J6 Defendants โ€“ RedState

None of this is to say that this week was an unmitigated victory for liberty. The decision to allow the government to collude with social media outlets to censor content the government doesn't like was disappointing.

BACKGROUND: BREAKING: Supreme Court Deals First Amendment Blow in Murthy v. Missouri โ€“ RedState

Likewise, the decision to continue allowing the slaughter of babies for convenience.

BACKGROUND: OOOPS. Supreme Court Posts Idaho Abortion Decision by Accident โ€“ RedState

But these setbacks are procedural, not substantive. Murthy was decided based on a troubling finding of lack of legal standing. Idaho will ultimately come back to the court after the Ninth Circuit rules on the case.

Make no mistake about it: This week, the Supreme Court stripped a lot of power from the federal bureaucracy and returned it to Congress and the courts. It sent the Department of Justice a strong message that creative interpretation of statutes will not be tolerated. And it told Congress to get its ass in gear and do its job.

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