The Waters of the United States rule has more lives than your pet cat. Farmers and ranchers in the area had thought the Obama administration's WOTUS rule was long gone, but we should never underestimate the federal government. On Aug. 16, 2018, a U.S. District Court judge in South Carolina issued an injunction on the Trump administration's review of the rule.
You remember WOTUS, the Environmental Protection Agency under the prior administration took it upon themselves to radically redefine "navigable waters" to include ponds, streams and other isolated small bodies of water that are navigable only be frogs and an occasional duck. Farmers, ranchers and businesses in rural America were facing a significant new regulatory burden with the rules being written in a cubicle in Washington, D.C.
Earlier this year the Trump administration's EPA delayed implantation of the WOTUS rule until 2020 so the EPA could revise the rule to be more in line with both its authority under the Clean Water Act, historical definitions and common sense.
But, now comes a single federal judge who knows better. The recent injunction does not directly impact farmers and ranchers in North Dakota, but "Big Green" wants to change that. The thought of power and authority moving from Washington to the states is simply unacceptable. Fighting regulation reform in all 50 states is just not as profitable for the radical environmentalist groups.
This judicial veto is just the latest in a long, and growing, list of judicial activism. The federal courts today continue to act far beyond their constitutional authority. Judges appointed by both Democrat and Republican administrations have skimmed over the undesirable portions of the Constitution and appointed themselves kings and queens.
At the retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, I wrote on these pages that we had the opportunity to restore proper constitutional order to the three branches of government. This is needed now, more than ever.
Call it what you will, judicial activism, legislating from the bench, politicizing the courts, it was a concern of the Founding Fathers. From the Constitution to The Federalist Papers, the court system was not intended to hold veto power over policy.
Judicial activism comes from the left and the right, and in either case it is wrong. The state and citizens of North Dakota have rarely benefited when courts rule from a personal ideological viewpoint. And that is why I was happy to read the statement from Sen. Heitkamp, D-N.D., after her meeting with Judge Kavanaugh. Her statement included the following:
"Today, Judge Kavanaugh and I had a thorough and substantive discussion about the importance of the rule of law, precedent, ethical standards at the U.S. Supreme Court, reaching more consensus on the Court, and avoiding activism from the bench so the Court is shielded from politics."
Heitkamp and Kavanaugh agree that avoiding judicial activism from the bench is a priority. Perhaps we are closer to restoring proper constitutional order than I thought.
Grande represented the 41st District in the N.D. Legislature from 1996 to 2014. She is a wife, mom, grandma, lover of life and Jesus. Opinions are solely her own.