Press Release

Rulemakers must follow the rules! Pacific Legal Foundation sues to enforce the Congressional Review Act

Washington, D.C.; April 11, 2018: Pacific Legal Foundation filed two federal lawsuits today, asking the courts to enforce the Congressional Review Act (CRA). It’s simple: bureaucrats who make federal rules have to follow federal laws, just like every other American.

Passed in 1996, and signed by President Bill Clinton, the CRA requires federal agencies to send rules to Congress before they may take effect, giving Congress its rightful opportunity to oversee agency actions. However, agencies often fail to submit rules as required. ­

“There is no excuse for bureaucrats—who would throw the book at you if you failed to follow their rules—to ignore the rules that Congress has imposed on them,” said PLF attorney Jonathan Wood. “Unelected bureaucrats should not be able to rule us without first submitting those rules to our elected representatives.”

Agency noncompliance leaves beneficial rules in a fog of legal uncertainty, and onerous regulations go take effect without necessary oversight. The suits filed today take aim at two such rules.

Sage Grouse Rules:
The Departments of Interior and Agriculture issued heavy-handed sage grouse regulations in 2015, which impose severe restrictions on federal land use in the West. The rules undermine widely supported state-led conservation efforts at the expense of those who rely on federal lands for their livelihoods. Under the CRA, Congress is authorized to exercise agency oversight and review these controversial and burdensome rules.

The case is Tugaw Ranches, LLC. v. Department of Interior.

PECE Rule:
In 2003, the Fish and Wildlife Service created a rule that encourages states, local governments, property owners, and environmentalists to collaborate on innovative conservation programs. The resulting management plans have helped people and species alike.

However, the Service implemented this rule without ever submitting to Congress for approval. If submitted to Congress now, the rule can lawfully take effect and give those who depend on it certainty to continue their effective conservation work.

The case is Kansas Natural Resource Coalition v. Department of Interior.

Read more about the CRA and PLF’s broader strategy of taking on the regulatory state.

About Pacific Legal Foundation
Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) is the nation’s leading public interest legal organization devoted to preserving individual rights and economic freedom. Since 1973, donor-supported PLF has successfully litigated for limited government, private property rights, and free enterprise in the nation’s highest courts.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Collin Callahan at

Case Attorneys

Jonathan Wood


Jonathan Wood is an attorney at PLF’s DC Center, where he litigates environmental, property rights, and constitutional cases. He is passionate about finding constitutional, effective, and fair solutions to environmental … ›

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Todd F. Gaziano

Chief of Legal Policy and Strategic Research, and Director, Center for the Separation of Powers

Todd Gaziano joined PLF in 2014. He is the Chief of Legal Policy and Strategic Research, and he directs PLF’s Center for the Separation of Powers. Todd has served in … ›

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Caleb R. Trotter


Caleb Trotter joined Pacific Legal Foundation in September 2015. He primarily litigates cases involving economic liberty, the First Amendment, school choice, and the administrative state. After growing up in Oklahoma, … ›

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Kaycee Royer


Kaycee Royer graduated from the University of Idaho with an undergraduate degree in Agricultural Economics. After obtaining her undergraduate degree, Kaycee attended the University of Idaho’s College of Law obtaining … ›

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Jeffrey W. McCoy


Jeff McCoy is an attorney at PLF’s office in Sacramento, where he works on cases involving environmental regulations and private property rights. Prior to joining PLF, Jeff was a staff … ›

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