Retrofitting the Administrative State to the Constitution: Congress and the Judiciary's Twentieth-Century Progress

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Abstract

One of the twentieth century's “big questions” for United States government has been how best to retrofit, or integrate, the full-fledged federal administrative state into the constitutional scheme. The public administration orthodoxy initially advocated placing the executive branch almost entirely under presidential control; Congress and the federal judiciary responded otherwise. Congress decided to treat the agencies as its extensions for legislative functions and to supervise them more closely. The courts developed an elaborate framework for imposing constitutional rights, values, and reasoning on public administration practice. As the challenge of retrofitting continues into the twenty-first century, public administrators might profitably play a larger role in the constitutional discourse regarding the administrative state's place in constitutional government.

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