CEI’s 2014 Unconstitutionality Index: 56 Regulations for Every Law

Every now and then one sees a cute article like this Los Angeles Times piece lamenting that Congress is “ineffective” because it passed only a few laws in 2013.

Some people — most, perhaps — truly believe in no bounds; government should be doing a lot of stuff all the time.

All you have to see is this new Rolling Stone article rallying millennials to the causes of government-guaranteed work for everybody and collective ownership of everything.

After soaking in government schools for 12 years, few recognize anymore that it’s supposed to be hard to pass laws. There shouldn’t be all that many in a free country. Meanwhile, Rolling Stone calls for dictatorship.

Nineteenth-century lawyer, abolitionist, and political philosopher Lysander Spooner was more hard-core than anybody else in opposing that viewpoint, calling “All legislation whatsoever an absurdity, a usurpation and a crime” in his essay Natural Law.

If we don’t have the right to push around or tax our neighbor, we don’t gain the right by assembling a mob to “vote.” Government operates solely by force; we should endeavor to improve society by persuasion, not force.

Usually, to turn the famous phrase on its head, “There ought not be a law,” because most things are not and should not be public policy issues.

In any event, Congress passed and the president signed into law 65 Public Laws in 2013, as one can see here and here. (The latter is the more official repository but it hasn’t caught up to the year-end final tally yet.)

Still, the LA Times, Rolling Stone, and fellow travelers wish there were more laws.

Well, wish granted.

Congress may have passed “only” 65 Public Laws before Obama left town in December. But one could say federal agencies, whom no one votes for, took up the slack.

Agencies issued 3,659 rules and regulations in 2013, as I tally here.

That’s 56 rules and regulations for every law.

There’s no pattern, but below one may observe the Unconstitutionality Index going back to 2003 below and in the chart on this page.

The Unconstitutionality Index
Public Laws vs. Agency Rulemakings

Years Bills Final Rules Multiple
2003 198 4,148 21
2004 299 4,101 14
2005 161 3,943 24
2006 321 3,718 12
2007 188 3,595 19
2008 285 3,830 13
2009 125 3,503 28
2010 217 3,573 16
2011 81 3,807 47
2012 127 3,708 29
2013 65 3,659 56

The deterioration of the Constitution’s separation of, and balance of, powers means that regulators and bureaucrats now make most laws. Congress is so 1789, after all. The executive branch increasingly imposes its will: President Obama and his administration repeatedly say they are not going to wait for Congress, so brace yourselves.