Course Description


Kovacs, Oberdiek, Scales

Administrative law is a relatively young area of the law. Although administrative agencies have been around since the founding of the nation, the so-called “Fourth Branch” of government only came to the fore during the New Deal, and its growth has continued unabated. Thus, the law of administrative agencies is still developing rapidly, and many of the core issues in administrative law remain unresolved. These issues concern fundamental constitutional concerns like due process and separation of powers. Administrative law is regularly front-page news, and much of the Supreme Court’s docket in recent years has been taken up with resolving administrative law issues.

This course is a survey of federal administrative law, with an emphasis on current legal issues. The course will cover both the constitutional and the statutory framework that governs federal administrative agencies. We will begin by discussing the procedural requirements of the Fifth Amendment. That will provide a foundation for our discussion of how agencies function by exercising quasi-legislative authority via rulemaking and quasi-judicial authority via adjudication. We will discuss proposals to change the way agencies operate that are currently pending in Congress. Then we will discuss how Congress, the President, and the courts attempt to control agencies through the budget process, appointments and removal of officers, review of agency rulemaking in the White House and Congress, and judicial review. Throughout the course, we will discuss the history and politics of administrative law.


This course lays the groundwork for practice in any regulatory area of the law, including environmental law, land use, energy, health care, securities, finance, tax, telecommunications, and many others.