Whatever may be said about Gavin Grimm’s legal case, the plaintiff in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.—which the Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear—should be credited with handling the lawsuit with the dignity and courage required for a teenager to assert a public position on an intimate matter. One only wishes Grimm and the advocates pursuing the case showed similar empathy for those who are, with equal sincerity, maintaining competing views—views that transgender advocates are using the courts to delegitimize.
Today Republicans will take control of both houses of Congress, and the House of Representatives will have more Republicans than at any time since the New Deal. Given their party’s emphasis on limiting federal government, it is important for these lawmakers to consider transformations of administrative procedure that bring back some limits. In the long run structural reform can be more powerful than discrete policy changes.
Since the New Deal, administrative government has become a dominant force in political and social life. Executive branch agencies– not Congress– are responsible for most of the federal obligations imposed on individuals and companies. To be sure, executive agencies are operating under statutes Congress passed, but these delegations are often broad and, in some cases, almost unbounded. Moreover, the Supreme Court has permitted agencies to put their own gloss on the ambiguities in their statutes and even on the regulations that they write. This kind of executive power undermines democratic accountability and liberty, particularly because bureaucracy generally has inherent tendencies to expand government.
But Congress can cut back on the enormous discretion of the administrative state. Here are four measures that the new Republican Congress should consider: