Regulatory government is democratic government


When the conservative movement artificial fill the United States Supreme Court with right-wing ideologues, one of the goals was to create a strong ally in his countryside dismantling the federal regulatory system, which we to depend every day to protect our families, our communities and our environment. With his recent decision in the emergency vaccine or test case, the court’s conservative supermajority gave the clearest signal yet that it advance this campaign from the bench.

The unsigned majority opinion and the agreement drafted by Judge Neil Gorsuch, when read together, set out a detailed blueprint for defeat regulation in the public interest. Significantly, the arguments they raise are firmly rooted in the long-held conservative myth that the regulatory system lacks sufficient “democratic accountability.” Quoting the late Judge Antonin Scalia, the competition casts the stakes in stark terms, warning against “government by bureaucracy supplanting government by the people.”

If the Conservative judges’ frontal assault on our regulatory system were to succeed, the resulting damage would be incalculable. The vaccine or test standard alone would have stop more than 6,500 deaths and 250,000 hospitalizations, according to the US Department of Labor.

Less appreciated, however, the deconstruction of the regulatory system would also do serious harm to our democratic system of government. This is because, unlike the flippant duck of Scalia, government by bureaucracy is government speak people. Conservatives in and outside the high court fundamentally misunderstand — and deliberately misrepresent — the role of federal agencies in responding to the public will and protecting the public interest.

Indeed, the regulatory system is literally democracy in action, as it invites and empowers members of the public to work with their government to implement policies to keep our drinking water free of contaminants, ensure food on store shelves is safe to eat, prevent banks rogue to deceive customers, well, well Continued. In fact, one of the defining attributes of the federal regulatory system, as administrative law expert William Funk has said Notedis the myriad of opportunities it provides for public participation throughout the policy implementation process, from agenda setting to implementation.

The best known of these opportunities is the review and feedback process under the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the development of federal rules. Other legally established avenues of civic engagement include petitions to initiate rulemakingmembership on advisory committeesand “citizen costumes” to enforce rule violations.

many agencies to go beyond those legally required participation opportunities in order to obtain input from the public to inform their actions, using discretionary tools such as requests for information, discussion groupsand public hearings.

The wide variety of participatory opportunities in our regulatory system helps each of us find our own path to civic engagement. We can focus our energies on particular policy issues that we might find particularly compelling, such as climate change, justice for student debt, or fair housing. And how we participate can vary according to our own skills, talents and interests. We can, for example, participate as community organizer or one citizen scientistor simply by tell stories about our lived experiences.

The regulatory system, of course, has yet to reach its democratic potential, and its mechanisms for public participation do not adequately ensure that everyone’s voice is heard, especially those from structurally marginalized communities. Special corporate interests overwhelmingly dominate the most important avenues for public input, as working families and marginalized communities face significant obstacles to participation.

More fundamentally, however, the existing procedures are not designed to meet the public where they are. On the whole, the agencies function as passive sockets public participation, a stance that effectively excludes many of those most directly affected by regulatory measures.

the Stop the corporate capture law, sponsored by Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the current chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, would address some of those issues. If passed, it will provide the public with new legal tools to hold agencies more accountable when they fail to issue new guarantees authorized by law. It would also create a public defender’s office, which would help people participate in the rule-making process.

The regulatory system provides a crucial platform for Americans to work together on our ongoing project of self-government. If conservatives are so concerned with democratizing our regulatory system, then they should support the Stop Corporate Capture Act and take other steps to strengthen our regulatory system, not weaken it.


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