The administrative threat revisited

At the RealClearPolicy site, editor M. Anthony Mills has posted a good summary of Professor Philip Hamburger’s critique of the administrative state — the regime of administrative law promulgated and administered by administrative agencies — set forth this year in the inspired Encounter Books pamphlet The Administrative Threat.

I recently noted Professor Hamburger’s pamphlet here. I wrote about Professor Hamburger’s great work of scholarship on the subject — Is Administrative Law Unlawful? (2014) — for National Review in “A new old regime.”

Mills interviews Professor Hamburger in the podcast below (34 minutes). If you have any interest in the subject, this is worth your time.

Toward the end of the podcast they take up the anti-democratic impetus of the case for the administrative state. “Some early progressives were quite candid about this,” Professor Hamburger writes in the pamphlet. Wilson complained of the necessity of the old-fashioned need to persuade voters. He was particularly worried by the diversity of the nation, Professor Hamburger notes, which meant that the reformer needed to influence (this is Wilson speaking) “the mind, not of Americans of the older stocks only, but also of Irishmen, of Germans, of Negroes.”

Professor Hamburger writes: “Rather than try to persuade such persons, Wilson welcomed administrative governance. The people could still have their republic, but much legislative power would be shifted out of an elected body and into the hands of the right sort of people.”


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