The Federalist Society held its 2017 National Lawyers Convention this past Thursday through Saturday. The topic of this year’s convention was Administrative Agencies and the Regulatory State. Most of the proceedings were streamed online and uploaded to YouTube. Senator Cotton gave the opening remarks. Attorney General Sessions formally addressed the convention.
The heart of the convention consisted of panel discussions offering an intellectual feast on the threat of the administrative state and how it bears on the preservation of our liberty under the Constitution. I hope to draw attention to one or two of the videos this week.
White House counsel Don McGahn gave this year’s Barbara K. Olson lecture. By any accounting it must be reckoned one of the highlights of this year’s convention. Brad Richardson quotes from McGahn’s lecture here in today’s Washington Times:
White House counsel Donald F. McGahn said the “ever-expanding regulatory state” is the “greatest threat to the rule of law in our modern society.” Reforming the regulatory process and selecting judges who will enforce the separation of powers are the “two greatest legal issues” facing the administration, he said. “The president is making fundamental changes to how the regulatory state interacts with the people, and he is selecting judges who will enforce the law as written and respect the separation of powers,” Mr. McGahn said in his remarks on Friday.
The text of the lecture is outstanding. It reflects McGahn’s understanding that the administrative state poses a fundamental challenge to our constitutional order. It impresses on me how far we have come in our understanding of the administrative state — how much intellectual “progress” we have made against the chief instrument of progressivism. Witness altogether the Federalist Society proceedings this year. They make for a remarkable exhibit in their own right.
McGahn’s lecture is an important companion to Steve Hayward’s post “Trump versus the administrative state” highlighting Chris DeMuth’s outstanding Wall Street Journal column “Trump versus the deep regulatory state.”
Video of McGahn’s lecture is below. His opening remarks begin at about 17:00. He doesn’t get to the text of his lecture until about 28:00, but you won’t want to miss his opening remarks.