TOPEKA – (July 31, 2017) – A federal law allowing Congress to review and overturn agency regulations is constitutional, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt argued in a court brief filed earlier this month.
Schmidt, along with the attorneys general of 14 other states, filed an amicus brief in federal district court in Alaska, in support of Congress’s authority to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to void federal regulations. Congress has used the CRA several times this year to overturn regulations adopted by the Obama administration in its final months. The district court accepted the brief Friday.
“Many federal rules impose significant harms on the States, and often do so illegally,” the attorneys general wrote. “The CRA provides an efficient procedure that Congress can use to stop this federal overreach, quickly blocking regulations without requiring States to engage in costly and time-consuming litigation. Without the CRA’s mechanisms, it could take Congress or the courts months or even years to stop illegal and harmful rules. The CRA also provides a tool for the States to work with the people’s elected representatives in Congress to halt unlawful regulation and to shift governmental power back to elected officials and away from unelected agencies.”
Schmidt said the Congressional Review Act allows elected representatives in Congress to have the final word in the federal regulatory process. Schmidt has previously called for strengthening congressional authority over the federal regulatory system.
In the underlying Alaska case, an environmentalist group has sued the U.S. Department of Interior, arguing that Congress’s use of the Congressional Review Act earlier this year to disapprove of an Obama-era Department of Interior rule dealing with Alaskan wildlife refuges violates the Department of Interior’s authority to manage that land. The plaintiffs seek to strike down the Congressional Review Act as unconstitutional.
The case is Center for Biological Diversity v. Zinke. A copy of the states’ brief is available at http://bit.ly/2uJT9j4.