Using Left Wing Institutions for Right Wing Purposes

While I am often critical of the left, there is one area where one must admire their accomplishments: the left is extremely good at designing institutions that promote their agenda.  In fact, some of these ideas have been so good that the right has copied them, with success.

One traditional area where the left has promoted its agenda is through “public interest” law firms.  The various law firms, such as the ACLU, bring lawsuits that have had enormous impact.  Over time, the right has formed its own law firms which have also had significant effects.

Another area where the left has been extremely successful is with the development of administrative agencies.  Such agencies are able to avoid the limits of the legislative and judicial processes to promote their (often left wing) agendas.  The right has not quite caught on to what the left is doing, but I have offered a proposal for them.  The Congress should establish an administrative agency with the authority to deregulate.  Thus, delegation – which has been the motor of regulation – could be used to promote deregulation.

The left though has not simply used agencies, it has also been innovative in extending the reach of these agencies.  For example, as implemented through regulations, Title IX of the Civil Rights Act requires recipients of federal funding to appoint at least one person as a Title IX coordinator.  Moreover, the Office for Civil Rights appears to require that this person spend their full time on Title IX matters, which means that a school cannot simply use one of their existing administrators, but must hire an additional person for the job.  As a practical matter, such persons share the agenda of the Office for Civil Rights and may operate much as an agency official who is employed by the educational institution.  Such officials have the added agency advantage of having an interest in the expansion of the agency’s power and mission.

A similar phenomenon occurs in the area of private companies that engage in government contracting.  These contractors have an incentive to promote big government, since it enhances their income.  Moreover, these contractors can lobby separately in the political process than the agencies that they assist.

The right could use the model of the Title IX coordinator to further its agenda.  I don’t like the expansion of government in this way.  The best thing to do would be to eliminate these coordinators.  But if they are going to exist, there is a strong argument for the right to employ them as well.  In my next post, I am going to describe an area where the right might use this power to push back against left wing bias in the universities.

Mike Rappaport

Professor Rappaport is Darling Foundation Professor of Law at the University of San Diego, where he also serves as the Director of the Center for the Study of Constitutional Originalism. Professor Rappaport is the author of numerous law review articles in journals such as the Yale Law Journal, the Virginia Law Review, the Georgetown Law Review, and the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. His book, Originalism and the Good Constitution, which is co-authored with John McGinnis, was published by the Harvard University Press in 2013.  Professor Rappaport is a graduate of the Yale Law School, where he received a JD and a DCL (Law and Political Theory).

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  1. Paul Binotto says

    Interesting and I look forward to your proposals!

    If we’re offering recommendations to the incoming the President/Congress, I have one of my own.

    I for one, would like to see Federal grant monies (whether they be for highways, education, etc.) to be formally designated as Federal Surplus Revenue (yes, even when the Fed. runs perpetual deficits). I would maintain, these “Block Grants”, dedicated or otherwise, should return to each state in a manner proportionate to and derived in the same manner as the state’s number of seats in the House are designated. And, tendered(returned) without strings attached; in my view, if the Federal Government has revenue to grant to states, schools, etc. its because they have collected too much of it in the first place. Designating these grant monies as Surplus is the only means I can conceive (in my limited understanding) to sever the monies from federal rules (i.e. Title IX) and to prevent the Feds seemingly ever greater willingness to coerce states, schools, etc. into conforming to the Feds will, through the vehicle and threat of withholding grant monies.

    As such, it would(may) be no more defensible to predicate the return/refund of surplus (grants) upon federal rule compliance, than it would be to predicate the refund of a taxpayer’s rightful tax-refund for over-payment upon federal rule compliance. Just thinking out loud (in print); my plan is as yet, still sketchy.

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