In his new book, Is Administrative Law Unlawful?, Professor Philip Hamburger answers the provocative question posed in his title in the affirmative. Rather than accepting administrative law as a novel power necessitated by modern society, he locates its origins in the medieval and early modern English tradition of royal prerogative and traces resistance to administrative law from the Middle Ages to the present. Medieval parliaments periodically tried to confine the Crown to governing through regular law, but the most effective response was the seventeenth-century development of English constitutional law, which concluded that the government could rule only through the law of the land and the courts, not through administrative edicts. Although the United States Constitution pursued this conclusion even more vigorously, administrative power reemerged in the Progressive and New Deal Eras. Since then, Professor Hamburger argues, administrative law has returned American government and society to precisely the sort of consolidated or absolute power that the U.S. Constitution — and constitutions in general — were designed to prevent.
Professor Hamburger joined us on a Teleforum conference call to discuss his new book, with additional commentary from Adam White. Mr. White’s recent review of the book for the Wall Street Journal is available here.
- Prof. Philip A. Hamburger, Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
- Adam J. White, Counsel, Boyden Gray & Associates