Somin Quoted in Washington Independent

A Washington Independent article examining the controversy over the nomination of Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein to run the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs drew on the writings of Professor Ilya Somin, who expressed his view that while "the czar system does circumvent the regular appointment and confirmation process," Sunstein is subject to the normal confirmation process, and therefore attacks and concerns over the appointments of "czars" are not germaine to the discussion of Sunstein's suitability for the position.

"Sunstein has nothing to do with the 'czars' or the problems with the 'czars," said Somin. "The ironic thing is that anybody else who might be appointed to this job would be less qualified, and more liberal. I disagree with what Sunstein writes in 'Nudge." But what he advocates is not as bad as the views likely to be held by other people who could run [the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs]."

Sunstein went through confirmation hearings before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in May, but his nomination has been placed on hold in the time since. Meanwhile, Sunstein has been under attack by conservatives for some of his more controversial views.

Attacks on Sunstein Frustrate Conservative Fans, The Washington Independent, September 9, 2009. By David Weigel.

"Nine months later, Sunstein is still not working at the regulatory office. In May, he went through confirmation hearings before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. In June, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) placed a hold on his nomination, citing concerns about Sunstein’s opposition to hunting. In July, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) placed another hold on Sunstein, for the same reason. On August 7, before leaving for recess, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed for cloture on the nomination. But another senator, who has not made his or her name public, has placed a hold on Sunstein, making it unclear when the Senate might take up his nomination.

"After the departure of Van Jones, the former White House special adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation, Washington has begun to take more seriously an argument made on July 30 by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) — that Obama is attempting to expand the number of 'czars' in order to sneak radicals into his administration. The president, wrote Cantor in The Washington Post, has appointed a 'virtual army of "czars’"— each wholly unaccountable to Congress yet tasked with spearheading major policy efforts for the White House.' And Sunstein is often included in that list. According to Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who has introduced legislation that would cancel the salaries of presidential appointees who haven’t been confirmed by the Senate, Sunstein is one of 34 such 'czars.' Glenn Beck, the TV and radio host who has taken credit for the campaign that ousted Jones, has attacked the man he calls 'Regulatory Czar Cass Sunstein' on no fewer than 12 episodes of his Fox News show."

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