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Supreme Court puts spotlight on speed of rulemaking

It's not often that Chief Justice John Roberts is caught by surprise, but he expressed shock yesterday at how quickly U.S. EPA issued a rule that is likely to have a major impact on how a Supreme Court case is decided. An exchange between the chief justice and federal government lawyer Malcolm Stewart over the administration's uncharacteristic speediness in drafting and approving the rule cast a spotlight on the murky world of administrative rulemaking. Critics often say it takes much too long for rules to be approved, except in cases where political officials in the White House step in and speed things up. The exchange yesterday could also reignite debate over whether the Obama administration is stalling the release of a legally required summary of upcoming new regulations, the publication of which has been on hold since the spring.

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