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2018 National Lawyers Convention Transcripts

“The administrative state, with roots over a century old, was founded on the premise that Congress lacked the expertise to deal with the many complex issues facing government in a fast-changing country, and that it was unhelpfully mired in and influenced by politics, leading to bad outcomes when it did act. The alternative was to establish administrative agencies, each with assigned areas of responsibility, housing learned experts qualified to make policy decisions, deliberately insulated from political accountability. The Administrative Procedure Act (APA), passed in 1946, both governs the manner in which agencies may adopt and enforce regulations, and provides for judicial review of agency action. Supporters of the administrative state point to the successes of agency actions leading to a cleaner environment, more sensible use of finite resources, healthier foods, safety on the roads and rails, and many other areas of improved quality of life. But even looking past structural separation of powers issues written into the bones of the administrative state, critics assert that in the ensuing 70 years the APA has become an ineffective limitation on agency power, as agencies bypassed its requirements by issuing sub-regulatory guidance, letters, FAQs, and more. Compounding the problem, the critics continue, the courts have adopted a policy of deference to agency actions that grant agencies even more latitude. Is it time to revisit the APA? If so, how should it be updated?”


Administrative Law | Constitutional Law | Law