Our battles against unconstitutional regulations and for separation of powers

June 18, 2019 | By STEVEN D. ANDERSON
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Fighting on behalf of our clients and for our mission is an honor for all of us at PLF. While we don’t work for awards or accolades, it’s always nice when we receive them.

PLF was recently honored to receive the Atlas Network’s 2019 North American Liberty Award for our work to overturn the unconstitutional regulatory state. The Atlas Network is a global network of more than 475 free-market organizations that offers training, grants, and other assistance to advance the cause of liberty.

I was pleased to accept the award on PLF’s behalf at FEECon, the Foundation for Economic Education’s annual gathering of hundreds of students and young professionals in the liberty movement, in Atlanta.

Attending events like these always provides me with a healthy dose of optimism. After seeing the sheer number of people interested in the ideas of free-market economists like Hayek, Schumpeter, and von Mises, and feeling the palpable energy emitted from the conference hall and meeting rooms, I can’t help but be enthusiastic that our vision of liberty for the country will ultimately prevail.

The fact that the awards presentation occurred on the anniversary of the creation of the Magna Carta, and was hosted and sponsored by two of the most revered organizations in our movement (who were founded by luminaries like Antony Fisher and Leonard Read) made it especially touching. Even more, the award comes with a $10,000 prize and a $20,000 grant from the Atlas Network to continue our work bringing precedent-setting litigation aimed at enforcing constitutional limits on the power of administrative agencies.

In 2018, PLF launched its Center for the Separation of Powers (CSP) to focus our litigation, research, and communications efforts around ending the unconstitutional leviathan that is our regulatory state. The Atlas Network prize acknowledges the CSP’s role in our most recent success before the U.S. Supreme Court.

This past fall, the court ruled unanimously in favor of our client, Louisiana landowner Edward Poitevent, who challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s designation of his property as “critical habitat” for an endangered frog. The frog had not been seen anywhere in the state since the mid-1960s, and the area no longer contained the kinds of trees or other natural resources needed for the frog to survive. Yet, the administrative agency’s designation destroyed his property’s economic value by prohibiting him from developing it. The court agreed with PLF’s arguments for common sense. Now, according to Chief Justice John Roberts, the Endangered Species Act “does not authorize [the administrative agency] to designate the area as critical habitat unless it is also habitat for the species.”

This is just one of more than a dozen cases that PLF has filed around the country to rein in the unconstitutional actions of administrative agencies. PLF has also filed numerous “friend-of-the-court” briefs in complementary cases brought by others.

Our constitution was designed to protect liberty. PLF is committed to ending the unconstitutional regulatory state, because it flouts our separation of powers and is a direct threat to that liberty.

We are grateful to have our work recognized by the Atlas Network.