Administrative Law and Politics: Cases and Comments

By in Constitutional Law on July 20, 2013

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Harrington and Carter know that bureaucratic government is no cure for the shortcomings of free enterprise, yet understand that government oversight and regulation is crucial to keeping power within democratic boundaries. For readers who hope to embark on jobs in government, the private sector, or non-governmental organizations, this proven casebook will help lay a foundation of knowledge for effective decision making and critical evaluation of ethics in the rule of law. At its heart, the book aims to alert readers to the tremendous scope and power of administrative government and to how the legal system shapes administrative procedure and practice.

Now in its fourth edition, Administrative Law and Politics continues to balance case excerpts and commentary, and has been thoroughly updated to account for recent developments, such as:

  • the centralization of executive powers
  • the impact of privatization on administrative accountability
  • the public’s interest when government services and provisions are outsourced
  • the expansion of investigatory powers under FISA and the legal challenge brought by the ACLU
  • the range of legal procedures that are commonly found in administrative practices, such as university sexual harassment procedures
  • the conflicts of interest when policy regarding future administrative rules is not open and transparent, as in the case of Cheney v. District Court for the District of Columbia

New cases include Kelo v. City of New London, FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., United States v. Mead Corporation, Dow Chemical Company v. United States, and Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency. Updated end-of-chapter exercises and questions encourage students to consider the majority and dissenting opinions in recent and highly controversial cases such as Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Gratz v. Bollinger.

One thought on “Administrative Law and Politics: Cases and Comments

  1. Frank T. Manheim
    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Knowlegeable authors comfortably isolated from reality, May 4, 2013
    Frank T. Manheim (Fairfax VA) –

    This review is from: Administrative Law and Politics: Cases and Comments (Paperback)

    It feels strange and a little risky to give a book that shows so many professional insights and whose authors seem to have genuine devotion to their subject the equivalent of a C+. But the U.S. is suffering too many unnecessary problems to continue to give reality a pass out of fear of frowns by the establishment.

    According to an online biography Carter got his law degree from Harvard (and PhD at University of California Berkeley), taught at the University of Georgia from 1973 to 1995, and published major texts in constitutional law, and legal reasoning. “Reason in Law” by Carter was in the 7th edition in 2005. From 1995 to 2004 Carter served as a Distinguished Professor of American Institutions at Colorado College. This background explains the book’s special emphasis on legal reasoning in a framework of American history.

    The organization of the book begins with basic philosophy of why regulations are needed to make capitalism/market systems work fairly, continues to history, and then to the how’s – the implementation, rationales, and conflicts over administrative and regulatory law in the last century up to recent time.

    The writing is clear, although the authors are tempted to dwell at length on the fine points of arcane legal reasoning. The text is interspersed with numerous mini case descriptions that illuminate topics and concepts.

    The problem for me is that the authors know and love American law not wisely but too well. They seem to feel a special awe for the American system, treating bizarre recent developments that are unique among advanced nations as though everything is going the way it is supposed to.

    If we ignore plausible-sounding philosophy and look at the realities of what happened to American law after World War II we see startling things. Evidences are even documented in Carter and Harrington’s book. For example, a table listing Court of Appeals decisions shows essentially constant 500 to 600 total cases per year from 1945 to 1960. But by 1970 the number had nearly doubled, and continued to climb, hitting nearly 11, 000 by 2005. This is part of the story about which Carter and Harrington seem oblivious.

    These numbers reflect the tide of litigiousness that began modestly in civil rights law in the 1960s, but roared up exponentially with the environmental laws of the 1970s, soon spilling over into most other areas of society. Whereas laws before the 70s rarely exceeded 20 pages, by 1990 they reached 900 pages (Clean Air Act Amendments), with recent bills in the thousands of pages, along with tens of thousands of regulations.

    Anybody who really thinks a nation can thrive with such labyrinthine regulatory structures is not looking at other advanced nations, who abandoned command and control systems like these in the 1980s and 1990s – but never had anything as extreme as in the current U.S. Even environmental activists like David Schoenbrod (“Breaking the Logjam”, 2012) recognize our system makes effective environmental management impossible. It also guarantees perpetual antagonism of the kind from which our current Congressional gridlock grew.

    The problems with our legal system are almost endless. Prisoners sit on death row for five or ten years or more. We know that those high level financial frauds, schemers like Ken Lay, Bernie Ebbers, and Wall Street barons who made billions through credit default swaps and similar financial instruments and then walked away fabulously wealthy from the 2008 crash, were aided by skilled lawyers. Virtually none of them were even indicted even where the main perpetrators went to jail.

    Huge sums are now required to have a chance at political office – providing close analogies with the corruption of the Gilded Age in the 19th Century. Interspersing lawyers and potential legal suit within virtually all societal transactions means that ordinary people have little chance at legal recourse unless their case promises big settlements from deep-pocketed organizations or individuals, to personal injury lawyers. Their full-page ads now provide the largest number of pages in most yellow pages in the country. That’s significant because the relative number of yellow pages is a fair measure of the proportion of societal activity that the pages represent.

    The authors probably are not covering up. Unlike Alan Greenspan, who admitted ruefully that he didn’t see the crash coming, they may still be comfortably isolated in their own world.

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