After battling bureaucrats throughout presidency, Trump gets last laugh against 'deep state'

A Trump-infused Supreme Court reins in federal bureaucracy in historic fashion.

Updated: July 2, 2022 - 11:30pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Donald Trump accused the "deep state" of trying to ruin his presidency from Russia collusion to two impeachments, but the 45th president may have gotten the last laugh 18 months after leaving office when a Supreme Court infused with three of his appointees drastically reined in the powers of alphabet-soup federal bureaucracy.

Thursday's ruling in the case of West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency significantly confined the ability of unelected federal bureaucrats to make law or policy outside of Congress.

In the decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court held 6-3 that under the so-called major questions doctrine, judges can strike down federal agency regulations that have substantial economic effects when Congress did not give explicit authority to the agency to make such decisions.

The federal bureaucracy "must point to clear congressional authorization for the power it claims," Roberts wrote in a ruling that shook Washington on Thursday.

You can read the ruling here:

While the court decision involved the Environmental Protection Agency and its efforts to restrain coal-fired electric plants, experts warned it could have vast impact on regulatory agencies across the nation's capital, forcing them to prove Congress gave them explicit powers before they impose new federal rules.

Leah Litman, a University of Michigan law professor, tweeted the decision is "a cudgel against administrative agencies" and their powers to control industries.

The ruling reaffirms the Founding Fathers' belief that "any limits on freedom be passed by Congress, not by kings and exchequers and bureaucrats and ministers," J. Christian Adams, a former U.S. Justice Department attorney, told Just the News.

"Unfortunately, the EPA is full of ministers and exchequers, and they decided that they didn't like coal," Adams said in an interview with the John Solomon Reports podcast.

Bureaucrats "love to control everyone's lives," he added. "And the Supreme Court said, "Look, we're a republic, because we put power with the people, with Congress, where ... if we want to do something, they have to go through a process.'

"In Washington the number of people involved in issuing this edict, there might have been 30 or 40 people, and those 30 or 40 people were responsible for basically ruining the jobs and employment and welfare of so many people across West Virginia and Kentucky, Colorado, because of their edict that got rid of coal."

For many observers, especially conservatives, the ruling also was a marquee legacy for Trump and his efforts to shape a more conservative Supreme Court with the appointments of Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

"I guarantee you that [Trump] is enjoying some of these decisions being made by the Court," said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a longtime ally of the former president. "Look, you know our country was set up with three branches of government. And we've developed a fourth, and it's all of these federal agencies that really go way beyond anything that could have ever been met by our founders."

Added Patrick Morrisey, the West Virginia attorney general who brought the landmark case against the EPA: "I think President Trump did some amazing things with the federal judiciary, and he doesn't get enough credit for that. And I really applaud the court for the decision that they made because this has the opportunity to be kind of transformative, and ensuring that the administrative state understands that it has to live under the same Constitution that we all do."

Even before his presidency began, Trump was assaulted by the federal bureaucracy, which launched a since-discredited Russia collusion investigation, leaked his private conversations with world leaders, resisted his orders and allied with Democrats to pursue two impeachment cases that ended in acquittal.

Trump emerged from those skirmishes to remain as popular as ever with his base — and now more popular than his successor Joe Biden — while federal bureaucrats now will see reduced powers and influence as a result of the court's ruling Thursday.

"It was such a win for the American people, but also for Donald Trump," former presidential spokesman Hogan Gidley told "Just the News, Not Noise" television show on Friday. "I mean, how many times did he have to fight the deep state? How many times did he have to fight the bureaucrats up here in Washington?

"This ruling means Congress gets to make up what those emission standards are going to be and not some bureaucratic agency like the EPA. So another win for the American people. Another win for those who've been fighting against the bureaucracy, chief among those being, of course, the former President Donald Trump."

Adams, the former Justice Department official, said Trump's legacy years from now may very well be that he clipped the wings of Washington elites.

"I think that's the big story is the regular people finally have a voice of the Supreme Court instead of the elites," he said.