The Corner


Arizona Shows How to Combat the Administrative State

The Trump administration deserves a measure of credit for its efforts to roll back and restrain excessive regulatory rulemaking. There have been real achievements, but — sadly — there has not yet been any fundamental reform. In other words, everything the Trump administration has done, the next president can undo.

But there is a path towards real change. Just ask Arizona. Earlier this month, Governor Doug Ducey signed H.B. 2238, a bill that rolls back a legal doctrine that has empowered the administrative state to enjoy extraordinary authority over American lives. The bill, drafted and passed with the help of the Goldwater Institute, statutorily overturns so-called Chevron deference, a legal doctrine that required courts to defer to agency interpretations of relevant statutes.

In essence, thanks in large part to judicial deference, administrative agencies have usurped the roles of every other branch of government. They’re lawmakers (writing new regulations), executives (enforcing the regulations), and even judges (they often adjudicate regulatory disputes). All the while courts remain hands-off, overturning administrative actions only in extreme circumstances.

This state of affairs only exists because legislatures and courts allow it to exist. Congress and the Supreme Court have voluntarily stepped back, and the presidency has eagerly stepped forward. But there is an alternative. Other states (and Congress) can restore the separation of powers. Arizona has shown the way.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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