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Victory! Indiana Ends Judicial Deference to Unelected Government Bureaucrats

March 14, 2024

This week, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed legislation that strikes a major blow against the Administrative State—the army of unelected bureaucrats who control nearly every aspect of American life—and reasserts our Constitution’s promise of separation of powers.

Championed by Rep. Gregory Steuerwald and passed by overwhelming margins in the legislature, HB 1003 ends judicial deference to administrative agency interpretations of constitutional provisions, statutes, and regulations, among other provisions seeking to promote separation of powers and fairness in the judicial system.

The legislation was inspired in part by the Judicial Deference Reform Act, the Goldwater Institute’s joint model legislation with Pacific Legal Foundation. Arizona was the first state to pass legislation ending judicial deference to administrative agencies in 2018, and numerous other states have since followed Arizona’s lead via legislation or litigation.

Across the nation, government agencies often expand their own power by applying generous interpretations of statues and their own regulations. These expansive interpretations are then upheld by overly deferential courts. This creates a legal system where the cards are stacked in favor of unelected government bureaucrats and against average Americans. Moreover, when judges constantly defer to agency interpretations of law, our constitutional system of separation of powers is subverted, and the executive branch is granted expansive lawmaking powers that are properly reserved for the legislative branch.

HB 1003 levels the playing field for Indianans by ensuring that judges are not biased in favor of government arguments and administrative power. The bill is designed to give average Hoosiers a fair shot in court and rebalance the scales of justice.

Pacific Legal Foundation’s Kileen Lindgren noted the importance of this landmark reform, “By passing HB 1003, Indiana’s legislature has prioritized the proper separation of powers laid out in both the U.S. and Indiana Constitutions. This bill ensures that the deck is not stacked in favor of government agencies and that Indianans get their fair day in court.”

The Goldwater Institute thanks the broad coalition of groups that engaged on House Bill 1003, and commends Rep. Steuerwald, Gov. Holcomb and the Indiana legislature for their decisive action on this important reform.

Brian Norman is the Director of State Affairs at the Goldwater Institute, where he assists in the development and implementation of Goldwater’s national legislative affairs strategy.



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