The Supreme Court’s chance to restore political accountability

The Supreme Court is hearing a case on Monday about actions the Environmental Protection Agency can take to control emissions of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases.” Corn West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency is about something more fundamental: whether Congress can evade its own legislative accountability by handing blank checks to the executive branch.

A sweeping decision could revitalize the non-delegation doctrine, which has been dormant since 1935. First proposed by Chief Justice John Marshall in 1825, the non-delegation doctrine protects the separation of powers of the Constitution, which the framers considered essential to the protection of liberty. As James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 47, “There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person.”


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