The Supreme Court’s decision Thursday curbing the powers of unelected federal bureaucrats to regulate all of us is the second-most-important case it decided this term, after the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

The Constitution set up a system of separated powers that envisioned Congress would pass the laws, the president would administer them and the courts would interpret them. Since the New Deal, Congress has shirked its accountability by increasingly giving unelected agencies the power to make decisions of vast economic and political significance.

In West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, a 6-to-3 majority ruled that from now on Congress must explicitly grant such power. The court has stopped the hell-bent expansion of the runaway bureaucracy to create its own form of laws disguised as regulations. It will be up to voters to elect people to Congress who will take back that power.

The issue before the court was whether the EPA could force coal plants to either reduce the amount of energy they produce for public use or spend billions of dollars on new facilities using alternative energy sources. Either scenario would dramatically increase the cost of energy in the name of fighting carbon emissions.

The Obama — and now the Biden — administration pursued a sweeping climate strategy in which each agency is encouraged to adopt novel interpretations of federal law to fight climate change. As Chief Justice John Roberts noted, the EPA was claiming a right to reduce emissions using methods “that Congress has already considered and rejected numerous times.” In other words, the EPA was trying to replace the Rule of Law with the Rule of Bureaucrats.

Emissions rise from the smokestacks at the Jeffrey Energy Center coal power plant as the suns sets, near Emmett, Kan., Sept. 18, 2021.
The Environmental Protection Agency has no constitutional authority to undermine coal plants to please environmental extremists.
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File

The Supreme Court moved further to stop this power grab than many observers expected. In his explanatory concurrence, Justice Neil Gorsuch laid out tests for future cases that courts can use to determine what constitutes a proper statement of congressional intent. He has effectively provided a roadmap for challenging other federal agencies on their expansive rules, whether it be requiring higher gas mileage in cars or the Federal Communications Commission’s net-neutrality regulation.

Since the spectacular failure of President Barack Obama’s cap-and-trade scheme, which failed to even get a Senate floor vote in 2010, Democrats and the environmental left have been obsessed with twisting and distorting old laws to accomplish by the back door what they could never do using legitimate constitutional approaches.

Now that the Supreme Court has started to close the door on rogue federal agencies, environmental extremists are acting like burglars who try every possible door in a neighborhood in hopes one will be unlocked.

Former President Barack Obama
Former President Barack Obama started the Democrats’ handcuffing of American oil companies with their climate change agenda.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Bill McKibben, the influential head of the climate pressure group 350.org, explains why the left has so promoted the ESG movement — which judges corporations’ performance based on environmental, social and governance metrics — to force companies to put on the straitjacket of unworkable climate controls.

“Convincing banks to stop funding Big Oil is probably not the most efficient way to tackle the climate crisis, but, in a country where democratic political options are effectively closed off, it may be the only path left,” he writes in The New Yorker.

What McKibben is saying is that because climate extremists aren’t getting their way at the ballot box, they will embrace the ESG approach, which is modeled after a union tactic called a “corporate campaign.” Under it, unions pressure firms to follow the union line or face damage to their company’s reputation and alienation from propagandized employees. Not willing to bear the immediate costs, many companies give in. After seeing Tesla dropped from “approved” lists of ESG companies, Elon Musk sadly concluded that ESG has been “weaponized by phony social justice warriors” and is now a “scam.”

Thursday’s Supreme Court decision does give hope that federal agencies can be stopped from running amok in their rule-making. The American people should decide the climate-change issue through their elected representatives in Congress, as the Constitution envisions.

The next challenge is to make sure McKibben’s prediction that “the pressure on banks, asset managers and insurance companies” to force dramatic increases in our energy costs will intimidate corporate America into letting the climate extremists have their way by entering a back door doesn’t come true.

John Fund is a columnist for National Review magazine.

You May Also Like

Fearless 40: White Hall Bulldogs

The White Hall Bulldogs are coming off a season to remember.  White…

A Plane in Peril’s Pilot Tries to Land on an LA Freeway During Lunchtime Traffic – RedState

On Tuesday, Southern California traffic was worsened by a vehicle much bigger…

Top Dem Can’t Stop Flip-Flopping on Whether Biden Will Run Again – RedState

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the congressional Democrats for a…

'Tamp down the rhetoric': Spike in FBI threats unsettles the political right

(The Hill) – An uptick in threats to the FBI after it…

Arkansas authorities to hold briefing after deadly weekend shootings

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas State Police, Little Rock Police Department and…

Registration for Boys & Girls Club afterschool programs open

PERMIAN BASIN, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – The Boys & Girls Club of the…

White Teachers Will Be First to Be Laid Off Under New Minneapolis School District Policy – RedState

Minnesota Public Schools (MPS) is instituting a brand spanking new racist policy…

10-year-old loses part of his leg after shark attack in Florida Keys: reports

MIAMI. (WFLA) — A 10-year-old boy is recovering after a shark attack…