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Considering the czars

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) will chair a Senate Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, hearing on Tuesday, "Examining the History and Legality of Executive Branch 'Czars'." Legal scholars and authors scheduled as witnesses, so perhaps light will be shed on the constitutionality of non-confirmed policy advisers. Maybe we could start with a clear definition of what a "czar" is.

Heritage Foundation scholar Matthew Spalding is one of the witnesses, and in a recent interview in The Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call, he observed:

The current debate over czars is merely a suggestion of this larger problem. Over the course of the second half of the 20th century, Congress has delegated massive amounts of authority to the administration, meaning the cabinet departments and agencies under the department. They have all sorts of regulatory authority. What we are seeing now is the White House trying to get a hold of its own administration for policy purposes. It's a battle between the White House, which is trying to direct the bureaucracy toward policy objectives, and Congress, which has technically delegated the power but still has oversight over this whole mess and is trying to keep control of it too.

Our fear is that following plethora of czars, we might soon be plagued by a rash of Rasputins.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.