McClaughry: Administrative State feels “little need to comply” with the law

By John McClaughry

My friend Dr. Donald Devine makes a good point about the workings of the Administrative State in a review of a book by former Secretary of the Interior Avid Bernhardt.

John McClaughry

Don writes ” Open cabinet access to the president had been the norm since George Washington, but it violates most modern Washington insiders’ presumed knowledge that the White House Office and the Office of Management and Budget expert staffs should and actually do run the modern presidency. The fundamental administrative fact is that, if the traditional direct presidential relationship fails, it is replaced by irresponsible bureaucracy, both careerist and political.”

Bernhardt explains how the government today does not generally work as the Constitution expected. Congress now leaves most of the policy-making to the bureaucracy, the real Article III courts leave legal-policy interpretations mostly to bureaucratic bodies in the executive branch, and the careerist bureaucracy actually performs the major executive functions of the national government — leaving the bureaucracy pretty much unaccountable to anyone.”

 “Having spent a great deal of my career in the executive branch, I am gravely concerned that many people who work there believe that they have little need to comply with the written words of the law or the regulations of their agency, or with the policies of the elected president. The leaders of executive agencies, for their part, too often view themselves as little more than figureheads, allowing their agen­cies to run on autopilot rather than fulfilling their responsibility to supervise employees and hold them accountable to the American people.”

The author, a Kirby resident, is founder and vice-president of the Ethan Allen Institute. To read all EAI news and commentary, go to

Categories: Commentary

3 replies »

  1. The entrenchment of the life time bureauocrats needs to addressed as does limitless political tenure of political office holders. One of the things that Phil Scott did when he was elected was to ask for the resignation of all those appointed to office by his predecessor. Now that’s just Secretaries and Commissioners, but that’s like 50 dead lawyers….. a good start

  2. That’s why we (executive branch bureaucrats) call the political appointees as “we be-we he’s) we be here when they come and we’ll be here when they leave!

  3. This is true all the way down to the municipal level, where a few local busybodies make enough noise lobbying for all kinds of committees such that town councils can never say no. The activists/lobbyists then “volunteer” to be on the committees and proceed to write, enforce, and adjudicate their own rules. Constitutional and private property rights are only considered when someone has the fortitude and financial ability to sue. Mini dictatorships abound throughout this state. The Leviathan continues to expand while our freedoms are smothered. Unsustainable.