On Neil Gorsuch, Part I

We think we’re most impressed with Gorsuch’s skepticism toward the “Chevron two-step” or “Chevron deference” established in Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984). Chevron is perhaps the least-sexy case with the biggest impact on your life; few non-lawyers have even heard of it, and yet it grants tremendous power to the government over so many areas of our lives.In Chevron, the High Court held that if Congress’s intent (as expressed in statute) was ambiguous, then any interpretation made up by an administrative agency must be given deference unless that interpretation is clearly at odd with the statute. In fact, an administrative agency can even change its interpretation later, and so long as the new interpretation is “based on a permissible construction of the statute,” the new interpretation gets as much deference as the one it replaced.

Why is that such a big deal? Because so many areas of our lives are overseen by administrative agencies. We fly airplanes; we’re subject to the whims of the FAA (which is extending its reach into flying toys). Ever watch TV or listen to the radio? The FCC governs what you can see and hear. Ever eat or drink anything? The FDA is watching (just try to get raw milk these days, or take an unapproved drug). Your gasoline is controlled by the EPA, as is your showerhead (at least until you “recalibrate” the flow restrictor with a large drill bit…or so we’ve heard). Have you noticed that cars keep getting heavier and heavier (making it harder to get decent fuel economy, resulting in expensive pollution control measures that need more frequent service)? That’d be the NHTSA. Want to see more than two candidates at the presidential debates?  That’s partially up to the FEC, which is being sued right now, and standing on Chevron deference.  It’s almost impossible to go even a single day without being touched by regulations and interpretations set down by faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats who, under Chevron, are entitled to have whatever they say taken as the final word unless it explicitly conflicts with a statute.

If Gorsuch holds with his history on this issue, he has the opportunity to do some real good. In fact, the Court has signaled that it would be willing to reevaluate it’s position and possibly overturn Chevron, most recently in King v. Burwell, 576 U.S. ___ (2015), the case which upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare.  It’s worth nothing that CJ Roberts, in writing the Court’s opinion chose to contort the clear wording of the statute (see Justice Scalia’s dissent for a detailed explanation¹) to reach a decision rather than rely upon the IRS’s interpretation of the rule; the purpose of that was to sidestep Chevron so that a future change in interpretation by the IRS (inspired, perhaps, by a new administration) wouldn’t have any effect upon the law.

So…yeah, this is a big deal. Overruling Chevron could be a huge change, affecting all of our lives for decades to come.

1.  Link goes to slip opinion, dissent starts on page 27 of the PDF

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So we sat down to do a little design work for our smoker today.  Fired up our favourite 3D modeling program (SketchUp), and spent about twenty minutes trying to remember how to do simple things like get objects aligned on the same axis.  Frustrated, we grabbed a couple of sheets of paper, our calculator, and a pen.  Elapsed time to figure everything out?  Eight minutes, including putting new batteries in the TI-82.

A quiet thank-you to all the teachers who taught us trig, so many years ago.

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Of Armies and Navies

Dear Friends:

As we sit down to watch the Army-Navy game, I know many of you have strong feelings one way or another. That’s all fine and great, but I would encourage you to keep in mind two things: first, at the end of the day, you and your comrades-in-arms all fight under the same flag, and two, at the end of the game, regardless of who wins, the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy will still be spending the next year in the crisp mountain air of Colorado Springs.

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A Big Band Christmas

Big Band Christmas Dance, courtesy UCO Jazz Lab.

Sounds like fun for those so inclined.

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Update to the Update

From a friend born and raised in Chicago:

I just hope one of my relatives put a Cubs pennant on my grandfather’s grave. It’s bad enough he’ll be voting for Hillary this year

And yes, for those interested, Friday’s game night will have The Game on the TV.

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It has come to our attention that a post we made in early 2013 has been rendered slightly less accurate by recent events.

Congratulations, Cubs!

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Things I Wish I’d Said

There are only two meaningful players in economics – the market and force. Anyone who says they want to go around the market wants the option to shoot you.

–Tonia JT McBride

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Duck Season


Urban Meyer's Duck Stamp

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A Soyuz capsule carrying three astronauts from Russia, the United States and Italy docked Monday with the International Space Station, less than six hours after launching from Russia’s manned space facility in Kazakhstan.

The Russian capsule roared into the pre-dawn darkness just after 3 a.m. Monday (4:00 p.m. EST Sunday) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome with Russian Anton Shkaplerov, NASA’s Terry Virts and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti of Italy aboard.

The craft docked with the space station after a trip lasting five hours and 48 minutes, which the NASA television commentator noted was roughly the time it takes to drive from NASA headquarters in Houston, Texas, to New Orleans, Louisiana.  [emphasis added]

Houston -> New Orleans: 348 miles, per Google Maps.

ISS orbital altitude: 205-270 miles, per Wikipedia.

…you’d think the rocket would be faster than that!

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