Imagine the look on the face of James Madison were he to be informed that a private industry now has the power to convince a federal court to force the American people to purchase its expensive, ineffective product. The founders knew monarchism and they knew republicanism, but could they have imagined venture socialism – whereby private companies can force the citizenry to patronize their businesses?
This is exactly what happened Friday when the ethanol mafia won another victory in court. Several weeks ago, I criticized the administration for not trying to reduce the target fuel blend for ethanol under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), but now it appears that the courts will just mandate whatever level of blending is desired by the industry, which is incapable of marketing its product without the boot of government. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the Obama administration misused its waiver authority to set the target biofuels levels below the mandate prescribed by the Renewable Fuels Standard.
Yes, the courts have finally found religion against Obama’s lawless use of executive authority.
I don’t begrudge the court for interpreting statute this way, but this is just another demonstration of why the courts are a one-way street and a dead end for conservatives on policy. The Renewable Fuels Standard shouldn’t be regarded as constitutional in the first place.
What last week’s decision demonstrates is that even if we successfully weaned the president off his affinity for the price-hiking ethanol mandate, the courts will block any administrative action. That is why Congress must repeal the ethanol mandate once and for all. After accomplishing nothing for the first half of the year, this is an opportunity for the GOP Congress to strike out against the Obamacare of energy and lower the cost of the fuel and food. It’s another opportunity to show the voters how government intervention on behalf of cronies has raised the cost of the most vital consumer goods and services – all to enrich the well-connected through the use of unconstitutional mandates.
Another lesson related to health care is that any effort to limit the regulatory burden of Obamacare will fail. Many Republican apologists have suggested that Congress doesn’t need to repeal the insurance regulations because HHS Secretary Tom Price could alleviate the burden through waiver authority. However, it’s very clear that when it comes to conservatives pushing the envelope on executive authority, the courts, unlike during the past administration, will serve as a bulwark against any loose interpretations. For when it comes to interpreting unconstitutional laws, suddenly the courts are scrupulous in following the strict dictates of the written statute.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.