The Fourth Branch of Government
The Fourth Branch of Government It has been taught since elementary school that the United States government consists of three branches, including the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. However, in those early days, there were no lessons on the influential fourth branch of government that operates alongside the other three and plays a central and increasingly active role in the system of checks and balances that was apparently designed to keep any one group from getting too much power.This essay defines the fourth branch of government and discusses its implications and increased powers, as well as the substantial affects it has on every person’s daily life. According to Vago (2009), the fourth branch of government is defined as administrative agencies with legislative authority to conduct investigations, make rules, and legally as well as officially make decisions about problems or disputes. For example, per the Free Dictionary. com, the Social Security Administration promulgates regulations concerning the provision of income for totally disabled people and also decides who is or is not disabled.
Additionally, for instance, if an employee is discriminated against on the basis of his or her race, color, religious origin, and/or sexual orientation, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (USEEOC) is an administrative agency that, pursuant to its website, is authorized to investigate such charges of discrimination against employers who are covered by the law, make a finding, and then may file a lawsuit to protect the rights of individuals and the interests of the public.However, according to Bovard (1997), “[f]ederal bureaucracies place increasingly absurd burdens on businesses”. Further, according to the webpage article on lawjrank. org entitled “Administrative Agency” etc. , the USEEOC and other federal administrative agencies are known as executive agencies regulated by the Executive Branch of government. Nevertheless, an enabling statute may create an independent local or state agency, commission, and/or board, which are not governed by the Executive Branch.The aforesaid webpage article also indicates that the primary difference between an executive agency and an independent agency is that the statute creating an independent agency generally prevents the president from removing the head of an agency without cause.
In contrast, a head of an executive agency typically serves at the pleasure of the president. The United States Supreme Court on several occasions has considered whether independent administrative agencies are constitutional.In Humphrey’s Executor v. United States, 295 U. S. 602, 55 S. Ct.
869, 79 L. Ed. 1611 (1935), the Court held that President Franklin D. Roosevelt could not remove the commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) without cause. The statute that created the commission permitted removal of the commissioner only for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance of office. In Humphrey, President Roosevelt attempted to remove FTC Commissioner William E.Humphrey, who was nominated by President Herbert Hoover to a seven-year term in 1931, in order to replace him with an individual of Roosevelt’s choice.
The Humphrey Court held that because he was not an executive officer, the president could not remove him from office except for the causes set forth in the statute. ” Several of the administrative agencies that affect everyday activities are independent agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Labor Relations Board.However, there are numerous other local, state and federal agencies that make up the fourth branch of government. These agencies are granted legislative authority to administer specific government programs and areas of concern, and they have procedures and rules of their own. Also, the previously stated webpage article indicates that the fourth branch of government is “an official governmental body empowered with the authority to direct and supervise the implementation of particular legislative acts”.For example, the Department of Justice functions as the administrative agency that addresses the legal concerns of the federal government and individuals. Within the Department of Justice is another agency known as the Drug Enforcement Administration which according to its website enforces laws and regulations against controlled dangerous substances, including illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine trafficking.
Every place people visit, whatever people eat, buy, grow, wear, read, watch, send, and/or receive are governed by some agency rule or regulation.Take for instance, in New Jersey, a leisurely park is regulated by a town’s local Park Commission, which is regulated by the State Division of Parks and Forests, which is regulated by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which is regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, all of which are administrative agencies within the fourth branch of government. Additionally, vegetables bought at a local grocery store are agency regulated. The vegetables must be free of pesticides and other pollutants regulated by the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.Someone deposited money in their bank account and it suddenly disappeared because of fraudulent activity, but it is replaceable due to the rules and regulations of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Another wins $1,000 on a single wager at a horse betting parlor — but wait, the Internal Revenue Service also wins because under its rules and regulations, it gets a share. And, then, the Horse Racing Commission regulates the owners, trainers, jockeys, horses, and the racetrack, all governed by the State Gaming Commission.
Administrative agencies are everywhere and there is no escaping them.As stated by Vago (2009), “[o]n the federal level, there are some 50 agencies in Washington alone (Hill and Hill, 2004). The average state probably has more than 100 administrative agencies with powers of adjudication or rulemaking or both (Davis, 1975a:8). ” (p. 128) The primary implication of administrative agencies is that they have too much power and do not conform to what our forefathers had in mind when the United States Constitution was formulated or what was so eloquently stated by our late former President Abraham Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg Address, “government by the people and for the people”.According to Epstein’s website article entitled “Why the modern administrative state is inconsistent with the rule of law”, ”[t]he creation of what has been optimistically called “the Fourth Branch” of government necessarily poses challenges on the integration of this fourth branch of government with the other three branches, for which there is explicit textual authority. That task must, …, provide for the separation of functions (which is nowhere stated in the Constitution) in order to achieve the protections against the arbitrary application of power which the separation of powers (which is in the Constitution) was designed to preserve.
Further, the implication of administrative agencies is that the heads of many, if not all of them, whether local, state, are federal appear to be selected based on various forms of favoritism and/or political influence that have little or nothing to do with their ability to do the job. As stated by Postell (2010), “[t]he overwhelming majority of laws in this country are made not by Congress, but by administrative agencies. They execute their laws and adjudicate alleged violations of their laws through agency-employed hearing officers or administrative law judges.In this fourth branch of government, filled with unelected and unaccountable experts, all three powers of government are consolidated”. America has defaulted to an administrative state, which according to Rothkopf (2010), “has been gaining power in ways that the forefathers never imagined — largely because they didn’t conceive of it in their political calculus”. Administrative agencies seem to set themselves apart from the people they are designed to serve. As a result, many of their rules, regulations, and decisions lack compassion and thus are prone to the erosion of public interest and support.
In conclusion, the American administrative state needs to be reformed with the development of strategies to prevent them from having such broad legislative powers and to make them more accountable to all people. These reforms would ensure that the only burdens we suffer are those we impose on ourselves, with a government over which we, the people, finally have regained at least some control as our founding fathers intended.