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Separation of Powers Restoration Act Passes House

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, July 12, the US House of Representatives passed HR4768, the Separation of Powers Restoration Act. Both US Representatives Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) and Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) released statements on social media supportive of the legislation.

Congresswoman Roby wrote, “Executive agencies have grown far too powerful the over the past few decades, eroding Constitutional order and the Separation of Powers. Today we voted to change that.”

Congressman Brooks wrote, “As an original cosponsor of the Separation of Powers Restoration Act, I applaud the House taking action and passing this legislation to reassert the constitutional separation of powers and restore the American people’s will. Unelected bureaucratic agencies have for too long been in the business of “lawmaking”, and SOPRA is a step to defend the Constitution and reclaim the authority of Congress to make our nation’s laws.”

Rep. Roby continued, “HR4768, the Separation of Powers Restoration Act of 2016 would codify measures to rein in the Executive Branch, restoring the proper balance of power between all three branches. Part of the reason for this “slippery slope” of Constitutional authority comes from two complex court cases that expanded the reach of administrative agencies. This act seeks to correct that by repealing the Chevron deference, revoking this dangerous precedent of giving unelected bureaucrats in Washington the benefit of the doubt. They certainly have lost that privilege.”

HR4768 was sponsored by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas). Radcliffe said in a release that he introduced the legislation to rein in the power of federal administrative agencies and to ensure that unelected bureaucrats don’t have the ability to effectively create laws. According to Congressman Radcliffe: The Separation of Powers Restoration Act (SOPRA) of 2016 (HR4768), seeks to reduce the accumulation of power attained by regulatory agencies by restoring the power of the courts to interpret the law, instead of deferring to the interpretation of federal administrative agencies.

Radcliffe said, “The constituents I represent aren’t just frustrated with the enormous quantity of regulations being rolled out by unelected federal bureaucrats – they’re fed up with the lack of accountability administrative agencies have when they make all these rules out of thin air. For too long, federal regulators have been allowed to run free and loose in their interpretation of the laws that Congress writes, resulting in a dangerous and unconstitutional culmination of power. The government works for the people – not the other way around – and I’m proud to help lead this effort to ensure the separation of powers is respected as our Founding Fathers intended.”

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Ratcliffe’s bill would overturns a 1984 Supreme Court decision which ruled that courts should, in many cases, defer to administrative agencies’ interpretations of “ambiguous” statutes written by Congress. HR4768 would amend the Administrative Procedure Act to require courts to conduct a “de novo” – or new – review of all relevant questions of law, rather than leaving such interpretation up to federal bureaucrats.

Rep. Radcliffe said, “We’ve already seen unelected bureaucrats try to tell people what kind of light bulbs they can buy, attempt to regulate puddles in people’s backyards and fail immensely at taking over Americans’ healthcare. We must ensure the integrity of our three co-equal branches of government, and this legislation will stop administrative agencies from taking powers the Constitution does not give them.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R from Wisconsin) said in his own statement, “A major plank of our #BetterWay agenda is restoring the Constitution. We want to give power back to the American people and their representatives in Congress. Just this week, the House passed Rep. John Ratcliffe’s (R-TX) Separation of Powers Restoration Act (SOPRA) to help dismantle the de facto “fourth branch” of government—unelected, unaccountable government bureaucrats. This is just another step we’re taking to hold this president accountable for his executive overreach.”

The bill now moves on to the Senate.

Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District; while Congressman Mo Brooks represents Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District.


Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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