Ka­vanaugh may drain swamp of bu­reau­cra­cies

Starkville Daily News - - FORUM -

Pres­i­dent Trump's nom­i­nat­ing Brett Ka­vanaugh to the Supreme Court drew a less than con­vinc­ing neg­a­tive re­ac­tion from Democrats and the me­dia. Im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the pres­i­dent's an­nounce­ment last Mon­day, many of the groups in their haste to op­pose the nom­i­nee, failed to write in Ka­vanaugh's name on their signs and TV graph­ics. One group was op­posed to “XX.” An­other was op­posed to “Cave­naugh.”

Ka­vanaugh ap­pears to be a good, es­tab­lish­ment judge more in the mold of John Roberts than An­tonin Scalia. He's be­gun meet­ing with se­na­tors on both sides of the aisle, and those-in-the-know pre­dict the se­nate will con­firm him be­fore the Novem­ber elec­tions.

A friend re­ferred an ar­ti­cle to me from “Util­ity Dive,” an on­line jour­nal/ blog for and by folks in the en­ergy sec­tor. Ti­tle and sub­ti­tle of the ar­ti­cle pretty much sum­ma­rize fears some in the sec­tor feel re­gard­ing some of Ka­vanaugh's rul­ings.

“Ka­vanaugh pick threat­ens EPA poli­cies, FERC au­thor­ity, lawyers say: The Supreme Court nom­i­nee has a track record of cur­tail­ing fed­eral reg­u­la­tions and has ques­tioned the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of in­de­pen­dent agen­cies like FERC.” (Fed­eral En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion)

Pres­i­dent Trump promised sup­port­ers he would “drain the swamp.” Trump's de­trac­tors don't know what “the swamp” is. A writer in “The At­lantic” called on “Trump Vot­ers to Face the Bit­ter Truth” that Trump is not drain­ing the swamp be­cause many who have been close to him over the years have set up shop mak­ing them­selves filthy rich by sell­ing “ac­cess” to Trump.

Trump's sup­port­ers don't be­lieve lob­by­ists are “the swamp.” The swamp is govern­ment. Lob­by­ists are merely slime float­ing on the swamp. Drain the swamp and the slime dies for lack of sus­te­nance. The swamp is big govern­ment, es­tab­lish­ment politi­cians, and op­pres­sive bu­reau­cra­cies.

En­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists in the en­ergy sec­tor fear Ka­vanaugh may rule against fed­eral agen­cies that make their own rules with­out any ac­count­able over­sight from the three branches of govern­ment. Ac­cord­ing to the ar­ti­cle above, “[Ka­vanaugh's] ju­di­cial ap­proach would likely mean that fed­eral agen­cies will have less lat­i­tude at the Supreme Court in craft­ing reg­u­la­tions, and will have to ad­here more closely to the text of their un­der­ly­ing statutes. But some lawyers worry that Ka­vanaugh's skep­ti­cism to­ward fed­eral reg­u­la­tion could go fur­ther, lead­ing him to ques­tion the very foun­da­tion of agen­cies like the Fed­eral En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion.”

In other words, they fear Ka­vanaugh may rule ei­ther to drain the swamp of in­de­pen­dent govern­ment agen­cies that make up their own rules and es­sen­tially dis­re­gard statutes that limit their reach, or reel in rogue agen­cies' pow­ers that have grown well be­yond the in­tent of Congress.

The fed­eral bu­reau­cracy, in­clud­ing so-called “in­de­pen­dent fed­eral agen­cies,” is larger, more pow­er­ful and more costly to the Amer­i­can tax­payer than the three con­sti­tu­tional branches com­bined. Those who are mak­ing for­tunes play­ing in­side or along­side th­ese bu­reau­cra­cies will scream loudly if courts ex­am­ine whether agen­cies are con­sti­tu­tional or have strayed far be­yond foun­da­tional statutes.

In the past 50 years, the fed­eral bu­reau­cracy along with pri­vate en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions has spent tril­lions of dol­lars to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment and to curb “cli­mate change.” What if th­ese funds had been in­vested in end­ing world hunger and poverty? How far would a few tril­lion dol­lars have gone to make a real dif­fer­ence in the lives of bil­lions who suf­fer daily? While such spend­ing is not an ei­ther/ or propo­si­tion, we need to con­sider spend­ing pri­or­i­ties in light of those most vul­ner­a­ble among us.

Daniel L. Gard­ner is a syn­di­cated colum­nist who lives in Starkville, MS. You may con­tact him atPJandMe2@gmail.com, or in­ter­act with him on the Clar­ion-Ledger web site­http:// www.clar­i­on­ledger.com/ story/opin­ion/

DANIEL GARD­NER

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