Federal Appeals Court Behavior Creates Gridlock
by Randy Rabinowitz, 10/18/2012
Steve Pearlstein’s latest column, published in The Washington Post earlier this week, exposed the aggressive, anti-regulatory decisions of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. These decisions are driven by industry arguments designed to create policymaking gridlock.
Pearlstein persuasively argues:
A favorite pastime of the business community these days is to complain about how dysfunctional Washington has become….
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And then there’s the business community’s penchant for whining about “regulatory uncertainty” while spending tens of millions more to mount legal challenges to every new regulation, appealing all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
When businesses challenge regulations in court, the doctrine of judicial restraint – which conservatives tout as a guiding principle – suggests judges would hesitate before overturning decisions by agencies with expertise in specialized areas of the law. Agency decisions are supposed to be entitled to deference. But the judges of the D.C. Circuit have repeatedly failed to defer to agency decisions and have aggressively overturned standards and safeguards designed to protect the public.
By buying into industry arguments about regulations, the judges of the D.C. Circuit have become yet another obstacle blocking many long-overdue public health and environmental protections.