President Barack Obama's wave aligns with a rainbow as he boards Air Force One at Norman Manley International Airport prior to departure from Kingston, Jamaica, April 9, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Technology Writer Confuses Law and Regulation to Make Obama Sound Like a King

With the election of Donald Trump, the left has thrown such a temper tantrum that politics must now invade everything as they virtue signal in any and every capacity that the status quo is unacceptable. Sports becomes political. Food becomes political. Grocery shopping becomes political. Clothing becomes political. Technology becomes political.

I read a lot of technology websites and more and more have turned into political blogs filled with diatribes against the latest perceived injustice of the Trump administration and often using lots of fake news as the foundation. Look no further than technology blog Engadget, which is lamenting the GOP’s reversal of Obama era environmental protections.

What is so galling about this is that the author confuses law and regulation and treats it all as sacrosanct. Just review this bit:

With astonishing speed, US Republicans are set to strike down laws or vote on new bills that eliminate environmental protections for the air, streams and national parks. The measures are being proposed so quickly that it has been difficult for environmentalists and Democrats to muster opposition. Much of the Republican strategy depends on a little-used law called the Congressional Review Act, signed into power by Bill Clinton in the ’90s to prevent presidents from creating new laws on their way out of office.

Since Obama put some of the laws in place during the end of his term, the rule will let Congress strike them down without much fuss, and President Trump isn’t likely to veto those actions. “During a presidential transition when we’re transferring from one party to another party, that’s the only time when it really makes a difference,” energy lawyer Scott Segal told the Washington Post last year.

This is constitution 101. Presidents do not make laws. A President cannot “put … laws in place during the end of his term.” Only Congress can pass laws. What the Republicans are doing is removing last minute regulations the Obama Administration rushed through, often with little public input. The rules were mostly put in place due to aggressive lobbying by liberal environmentalist groups and the public comment period was often curtailed.

The Congressional Review Act is a law. It is a law that only applies to regulations. That law allows Congress to kill regulations created at the end of a Presidential term and the Senate filibuster rules do not apply. Yes, this complicates it further. A law is supreme. It must be passed in identical form by both houses of congress then signed into law by the President. Once a law is passed, a regulation is implemented by an executive agency or department on the authority of the President after a period of public review and input to direct and instruct the public how to carry out or comply with a law. A rule applies only to an agency, department, or house of congress and instructs that agency, department, or house of congress how to operate.

So the Congressional Review Act will be used to kill regulations and the Senate Democrats will not be able to filibuster the legislation because Senate rules preclude filibusters for Congressional Review Act legislation.

While I take it the author is not American, if you are going to write about the America legal/political structure the terminology does matter. Presidents cannot make laws and regulations can be changed even without congressional action. Congressional action just kills the regulation quickly and this particular law is used to kill last minute, agenda driven regulations that are frequently implemented without public input by lobbyist driven activists within administrations.

About the author

Erick Erickson

View all posts