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Constitutional Victory: Judge Rejects Biden’s Unlawful EV Mandate

Federal Judge Deems Biden’s EV Push ‘Inconsistent and Whimsical’


A significant developmental rule concerning electric vehicles (EVs), championed by the Biden administration, had been met with stern disapproval by a federal judge appointed during the Trump presidency. The judge labeled the mandate as an ‘inconsistent and whimsical’ breach of both legislative rights and the balancing act of powers outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

This culminated in no fewer than 21 states launching a suit against the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), protesting against a rule-finalized on the eve of the 2023 Thanksgiving event. The regulation pushed states to establish specific goals focusing on the reduction of greenhouse gases for federally financed roadway constructions.

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Per the judicial verdict, the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Kentucky sided with the abovementioned 21 states, offering decisive relief and ruling that the FHWA had overstepped its legal domain. Yet, the court fell short of completely barring the enforcement of the rule or entirely revoking it. U.S. District Judge Benjamin Beaton laid the foundation for his judgment. Beaton wrote: ‘Even given the assumption that it is within the purview of the Administrator to establish environmental norms encompassing CO2, the execution of such authority has been inconsistent and whimsical.’

Several critics of the ruling argue that there exist explicit ties between reductions in vehicle-emitted gases and the allocation of federal funding. One such individual is the Republican Senator from North Dakota, Kevin Cramer, who seems convinced that the Biden administration’s emphasis on this rule is a veiled promotion of EVs. He believes it’s meant to curb the usage of traditional, combustion-based vehicles in favor of electrically powered ones.

Additional federal bodies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA), have brought forth policies stipulating a considerable increase in EV production in the coming years. These regulations have fueled the conservative opposition to the federal government’s perceived active interference into state rights and policies.

The lawsuit employed against the FHWA was on behalf of an alliance of 21 states, including Kentucky, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. The suit alleged that by trying to control vehicle emissions and compelling states to comply with federal regulations, the FHWA had surpassed its very own legal boundaries.

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In the final verdict, Judge Beaton conceded to the allegations, concluding that the regulations imposed by the FHWA not only exceeded their statutory authority but were also ‘inconsistent and whimsical.’ Kentucky lodged a complaint against the FHWA in December, which formed a key part of the broader multi-state lawsuit.

Judge Beaton expressed concern over the potential territory encroachment by the federal government. He asserted that if Congress had purported to grant the Administrator the authority to determine state policies, it could lead to far-reaching and considerably larger issues. ‘Modern constitutional doctrine allows Congress to demand much from states, but it cannot commandeer or coerce the apparatus of state governments into mere administrative districts of the federal government,’ Beaton’s ruling stated.

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Expounding on the issue of federal overreach, Beaton continued, ‘Should the Administrator have the allowance to thrust national greenhouse-gas policy onto the unwilling state Departments of Transportation, this would corrupt the separation of sovereigns central to our lasting and vibrant system of federalism.’ It’s clear that this statement echoes the sentiments of many conservatives who value the independence and sovereignty of state governance.

This important ruling emerged shortly after a similar decision from a federal court in Texas defying similar regulations. In this occurrence, Texas had taken an autonomous stance as the singular plaintiff.

Following the judicial decision, an FHWA spokesperson provided assurance that the Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration would continue to back the Biden-Harris administration’s environmental ambitions. This highlights the agency’s aim to halve carbon pollution by the year 2030 and achieve a virtual stand-still of emissions by 2050. ‘We are reviewing the court’s decision and determining next steps,’ the spokesperson stated.

The announcement was made soon after the FHWA set the contentious rules in stone on November 22. The agency substantiated its actions by stating that they support President Biden’s ‘whole-of-government approach’ to reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent by the year 2030.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg reinforced this stand at the time, suggesting that the decree allowed states the autonomy to establish their own climate objectives. However, the 22 states challenging the action in court, along with industry organizations such as the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, contended that the directives did the exact opposite. They believed that it confined state initiatives, pressuring them to conform to the federal government’s ambitions.

This story of 22 states developing a firm, united opposition against federal overreach serves as a testament to constitutional principles, and particularly, to sovereign state rights. Upholding these rights is a value of utmost importance to conservatives. As these national narratives unfold, the struggle between the centralized government and state administrations continues to shape the future of our great nation.

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