Most Federal Crimes Never Approved By Congress

September 15, 2017 by

Over the years, so many crimes have been placed on the books that otherwise innocent behavior has been turned into a criminal act. But, what’s more shocking is that 98.5% of federal crimes came as the result of rules made by regulatory agencies rather than congressional action.

In a recent “Number of the Day” post where Scott Rasmussen explores topics from culture to politics to technology, he highlights that while there are over 300,000 federal crimes, there are only about 4,450 congressionally approved federal crimes.

Rasmussen wasn’t the first to explore this topic, The Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote that for every congressionally approved law in 2016, 18 new federal rules were implemented by regulators. Jim Copland of the Manhattan Institute labeled it as “Criminalization Without Representation.”

CEI actually created the “Unconstitutional Index” in 2016 after finding out that in the prior year 3,408 new federal regulations were issued, compared to 87 congressionally approved laws.

In a post from January, the Manhattan Institute says of this over-criminalization, “In our view, it represents one of the most egregious usurpations of power by the state from the people in American history.”

“Contrary to what we’re told by ‘Schoolhouse Rock,’ very few criminal laws are debated and passed by Congress and signed by the president. Fewer than 2 percent of criminally enforceable federal rules come from our elected representatives.”

That number is alarming.

Unelected bureaucrats creating the vast majority of these laws have no accountability to the people the laws impact, completely disregarding the bedrock notion that the government’s just powers are derived from the consent of the governed. There is no immediate remedy because even if Congress were to be voted out, those creating the regulations would remain.

Requiring lawmakers to act before legislation can be criminally enforceable allows those impacted to actually have a voice in the process once again. Until that is done, Americans are just living at the will of those they can’t touch.

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About the Author

Charles operates the Houston office for Empower Texans/Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.