Magazine May 18, 2020, Issue

Is Administrative Law Immoral?

From the cover of The Dubious Morality of Modern Administrative Law (Rowman & Littlefield/Manhattan Institute)
The Dubious Morality of Modern Administrative Law, by Richard A. Epstein (Rowman & Littlefield / Manhattan Institute, 240 pp., $35)

In 2014, Columbia Law School professor Philip Hamburger posed the question “Is administrative law unlawful?” in a book of that title. Now Hamburger’s New York neighbor Professor Richard Epstein, of New York University Law School, asks whether modern administrative law is immoral. Both answer in the affirmative.

Although framing their inquiries in different ways, both Hamburger and Epstein question whether contemporary administrative law is consistent with the rule of law. This is not an idle question. The laws that govern many individuals’ lives and livelihoods are the product not of the legislature but of administrative agencies exercising delegated power with inconsistent

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Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.

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