Two years ago this month, we learned of the burgeoning scandal at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – the deliberate targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups – a coordinated move to keep these groups on the sidelines during a critical election.
We are in federal court representing dozens of targeted groups and continue to seek justice in this case. But over the course of the two years when the scandal broke, one thing has become very clear: unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats were at the center of this scheme.
What’s equally troubling – there’s been no accountability. Not one person has been fired. Zero.
The IRS, along with a long list of other agencies, is run by bureaucrats. And these bureaucrats destroy our liberty and threaten our democracy.
As I detail in my new book, "UNDEMOCRATIC: How Unelected, Unaccountable Bureaucrats Are Stealing Your Liberty and Freedom," we are in serious peril because of this – the most powerful branch of government we did not even learn about in high school civics class.
Here’s the problem: The constitution only allows for three branches of government – not a fourth branch. Yet we have one. It’s called the federal bureaucracy. We have created an unconstitutional, self-sustaining monster that is swallowing our democracy. And our constitutional republic hangs in the balance.
Make no mistake about it. This does not involve just the IRS. This is a much larger problem than the corruption of a single government agency. This is the corruption of an entire system of government.
In "Undemocratic," I explore how a number of government agencies are engaged in an unchecked power play:
· A Veterans Administration scandal delaying life-saving health care treatment for thousands of our nation’s veterans.
· A Department of Health and Human Services abortion-pill mandate forcing employers to violate their religious beliefs.
· Climate-change regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency killing jobs and stifling the economy.
· National Labor Relations Board rules favoring unions bosses over American workers.
Consider this fact: from 2009 to the end of 2012, the federal government’s bureaucracy created more than 13,000 new regulations – each with the binding force of law. And according to a new report, federal agencies issued 3,554 new regulations in 2014 alone.
That’s a staggering number of new laws. And not one American voted for any of the regulators who drafted, evaluated, and approved those new laws.
And this culture also has created a bureaucratic climate of arrogance. Investigators recently revealed that nearly 1,600 IRS employees – those responsible for enforcing our tax laws –actually willfully evaded paying their own taxes for up to a decade. And in some cases, these employees even received promotions and bonuses. Unbelievable.
But there is hope. There is an action plan that can turn things around.
First, resist. Americans cannot consent to unlawful overreach. We must challenge federal lawlessness in courts of law and in the court of public opinion. And when you challenge, you can win.
Next, reform. Congress must reform our civil service to introduce real accountability, limit agencies’ rulemaking authority, and strip public officials of their effective immunity from liability when they violate citizens’ constitutional rights.
Finally, restore. We must engage in a long-term effort to teach Americans the virtues of constitutional democracy. We are not a great nation because we always make the correct policy choices (indeed, we make many mistakes) but because a great people live under a great system of government.
The answer to our challenge lies not in any specific idea. But instead in our own resolve. We are heirs to a great nation, and we are caretakers of that nation’s constitution and liberty, its blood-bought liberty.
Impatient presidents don’t get to change the law. The same goes for unelected bureaucrats. It is time to turn the power switch off and reclaim our republic.
Jay Sekulow is Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional law. He also serves as a member of President Trump’s legal team. Follow him on Twitter @JaySekulow.