Level of Education



The United States bureaucracy began as only four departments and has expanded to address nearly every issue of public life. While these bureaucratic agencies are ostensibly under congressional oversight and the supervision of the President as part of the executive branch, they consistently usurp their discretionary authority and bypass the Founding Fathers’ design of balancing legislative power in a bicameral Congress.

The Supreme Court holds an indispensable role in mitigating the overreach of executive agencies, yet the courts’ inability to hold bureaucrats accountable has diluted voters’ voices. Since the Supreme Court’s 1984 ruling in Chevron, U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council Inc., the doctrine of “Chevron deference” requires the courts to defer to bureaucrats in specialized policymaking areas to issue cumbersome regulations while escaping the accountability to the electorate required of elected officials. Without the courts to limit bureaucratic jurisdiction and reinforce the Founding Fathers’ constitutional design of checks and balances with a separation of powers, American voices go unheard by a government that is supposed to represent them.

This paper discusses a history of the American bureaucracy, the Founding Fathers’ intent for the judicial branch, and how American courts have deviated from their role, with emphasis on Chevron deference. Cases such as West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency are examined that may contribute to mitigating bureaucratic overreach and lead to the courts’ return to upholding representative democracy.