Regulatory Reform: Combating Agency Overreach and Judicial Deference

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October 23, 2020

The prospect of a new Supreme Court justice brings a renewed focus on many of the Court's controversial doctrines. While much of the speculation on Judge Amy Coney Barret’s nomination has focused on social issues such as abortion, she could be a critical vote in the Court’s future on Chevron deference. Chevron deference— named for the 1984 Supreme Court decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council — holds that courts should defer to an agency's interpretation of a statute when its language does not clearly answer the question at issue, provided the agency interpretation is reasonable. This has often allowed agencies to turn statutory ambiguity into a justification for expanding the scope of their authority. This authority now allows agencies to promulgate, enforce, and adjudicate rules in one all-encompassing unelected branch of government.

October 15, 2020

On October 7, 2020, the Federalist Society's Pennsylvania Student Chapter and the Regulatory Transparency Project co-sponsored an event on "Antitrust Populism and the Conservative Movement." During the 1986 Supreme Court confirmation hearings for then-Judge Antonin Scalia, he was asked about his views on antitrust. “In law school, I never understood [antitrust law],” Scalia explained, “I later found out, in reading the writings of those who now do understand it, that I should not have understood it because it did not make any sense then.” Some contend that the much-needed coherency in antitrust law was brought about by the Chicago School revolution and the adoption of the consumer welfare standard.

September 15, 2020

Today, the Committee for Justice provided a statement for inclusion in the record of the Subcommittee’s September 15th hearing, “Stacking the Tech: Has Google Harmed Competition in Online Advertising?” The letter was submitted by a group of legal experts, economists, and consumer and taxpayer advocates who believe in the importance of promoting competitive markets and defending the rule of law.

July 24, 2020

America’s technology companies have created huge gains for consumers, developing networks and products that connect the world in ways that were inconceivable just 20 years ago. Yet this progress has not been without its critics. The dominance of large platforms has led to concerns about the harmful effects of lock-in and path dependency, with many arguing the technology sector is unique and requires new approaches to antitrust policy. In particular, it is argued that the consumer welfare standard that guides American antitrust policy is ineffective for regulating Big Tech. Yet with the lack of demonstrable consumer harm, would increased government interventions improve the market?

July 18, 2020

Please join the Committee for Justice and Innovation Defense Foundation for a discussion of this important issue in advance of the House Judiciary Committee's hearing, "Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 6: Examining the Dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google," with industry CEOs.

July 8, 2020

In Seila Law v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Supreme Court struck down the CFPB’s leadership structure under a single director that the President cannot remove except for inefficiency, neglect, or malfeasance. But the justices stopped there, leaving the bureau in place, and declined to revisit Humphrey’s Executor more broadly. Nonetheless, the Court’s decision was a victory for separation of powers principles. Our panel of legal and regulatory experts will discuss the implications of the opinion for independent agencies and removal power, as well as what the decision means for consumers.

June 28, 2020

The death of George Floyd and the nation's reaction to it have raised a variety of interesting legal issues, including police reform, racial profiling, qualified immunity, censorship, criminal charges against policemen, and the scope of the president's power to use troops to quell civil unrest. Our panel of legal experts will analyze the legal issues involved and how they are likely to play out in the months ahead, while also discussing the broader implications for the law and our society.

June 18, 2020

Commissioner O’Rielly served for many years as a leading policy analyst and advisor to the House and Senate Commerce Committees. At the FCC, Commissioner O’Rielly has stayed true to a Constitutionalist regulatory philosophy focused on the rule of law and economic freedom, and regulatory intervention only when it is justified and narrowly tailored. He has built an impressive record of achievements with distinguished leadership on many critical issues including spectrum; 5G and wireless services; broadcast and media; regulatory modernization; FCC process reform; internet freedom; and combatting corruption, waste, fraud, and abuse.

June 15, 2020

Our panel last month discussed Robert Bork’s consumer welfare standard, which has heavily influenced the evolution of antitrust analysis and enforcement over the past 42 years, and how Bork’s paradigm is under attack. Many defenders of the rule of law are concerned with the populist notion that competition law should be weaponized and used as a tool to address broader socio-economic concerns. Furthermore, adopting populist proposals that seek to rewrite antitrust law would upend more than a century of legal and economic learning and progress. This week, we will dive deeper into the recent populist antitrust movement and how the failure to distinguish between the proper and improper uses of antitrust laws poses a threat to the rule of law.

June 1, 2020

We write in support of your Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery Executive Order (EO). As the focus turns toward restarting the economy and society, this EO will give businesses the flexibility they need to reopen their doors, create jobs, and safely get Americans back to work.

May 30, 2020

Journalists and academics seem convinced that artificial intelligence is often biased against women and racial minorities. If Washington’s new facial recognition law is a guide, legislators see the same problem. But is it true? It’s not hard to find patterns in AI decisions that have a disparate impact on protected groups. Is this bias? And if so, whose?

May 29, 2020

The Administration cannot order the FCC and FTC, both independent agencies, to take any actions. While the executive order's more limited approach – petitioning the FCC for rulemaking and directing the FCC to 'consider taking action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law' – is permissible, the FCC rules and FTC enforcement actions that result may be unlawful. Depending on the details, they may well violate the First Amendment rights of social media platforms or interpret Section 230 in a manner inconsistent with the statutory text, its intent, and its interpretation by the courts.

May 28, 2020

May 25, 2020 marks two years since the landmark General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force, and European regulators find themselves struggling to enforce a law that has burdened the economy through enormous compliance costs and created more confusion than clarity. Meanwhile in the US, recent concerns over contact tracing and public health data during the COVID-19 pandemic have underscored the tension between a person’s right to privacy and the public’s right to know. What lessons for U.S. policy can be learned through the mistakes of others? Three leading privacy experts take an in-the-trenches look at how our privacy laws work (or don’t), recent failures in the states and abroad, and what is on the horizon as state and federal lawmakers decide whether Europe’s privacy regulations belong on this side of the Atlantic.

May 21, 2020

It should not be a point of contention to say that the FCC is the agency of jurisdiction in commercial spectrum policy, but it appears to have become one. Federal law (and more than two decades of federal practice) makes clear the process by which federal agencies work with the FCC to construct a uniform, coherent federal policy. When those processes are not followed, as the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee ​recently observed​, the interests of the United States suffer and our international leadership on spectrum matters is compromised. In the case of the Ligado Networks license modification, the FCC meticulously followed these processes. The FCC fully consulted with relevant federal agencies at each stage of the process, and proceeded in a careful, deliberate, and open manner, properly balancing competing interests and protecting critical GPS operations.

May 14, 2020

Robert Bork’s consumer welfare paradigm, which has heavily influenced the evolution of antitrust analysis and enforcement over the past 42 years, is under attack. Critics from both parties assert not only that antitrust has been unable to keep up with developments in the high tech, finance, and communications industries, but also that competition law should be weaponized and used as a tool to address broader concerns such as privacy, inequality, and political viewpoint discrimination. In response, the DOJ and FTC have launched investigations into Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Google. Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee has launched its own investigation into these companies and are also reviewing whether changes are necessary to existing antitrust laws. It is critical to understand the arguments at the core of the antitrust debate and what is motivating recent proposals. Will Robert Bork’s “consumer welfare” standard survive?

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