In a piece for the Claremont Review of Books, JWI Senior Scholar Prof. Michael Uhlmann reviews Prof. Joseph Postell’s Bureaucracy in America: The Administrative State’s Challenge to Constitutional Government. Prof. Uhlmann articulates the reasons for the intellectual, legal, and political development of the administrative state.
“By allowing agency rules to have binding effect with only tenuous legislative authorization, and by permitting agencies to interpret and adjudicate their own rules with little supervision by Article III courts, administrative law radically altered the Constitution’s understanding of republican government; it was, at best, little more than an effort to mask bureaucratic caprice in the forms of law.”
“For most of American history, the growth of regulation was matched by Congress’s jealous protection of its own powers. When creating enforceable legal rules, Congress took care to delineate standards with reasonable specificity. There was nothing like the kind of delegated legislative authority routinely encountered today, when Congress is all too happy to transfer policymaking powers to regulatory agencies.”
“At the core of Bureaucracy in America is Postell’s concern with constitutional legitimacy. Despite the dominion of Progressive thought in modern political culture, there remains a continuing sense of unease among progressives and conservatives alike about the now nearly century-old effort to substitute the efficiency of bureaucratic expertise for the messiness of political deliberation. To the extent his book conveys a message, it is that the virtues of the former are greatly exaggerated, while those of the latter are frequently ignored. Can the administrative state be re-constitutionalized? “
Read the review here.