Administrative Law

US government is 'dangerously off kilter' because of growing administrative state, law prof says


The administrative state is a growing fourth branch of government that is negating our constitutional system of checks and balances, according to George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley.

Writing in the Washington Post, Turley asserts that the federal government “is not just bigger, it is dangerously off-kilter.” The fourth branch is growing at the expense of Congress’ lawmaking authority and the courts’ decision-making authority, he writes.

As federal regulations increased, Congress created administrative courts to relieve the judiciary’s workload. “The result is that a citizen is 10 times more likely to be tried by an agency than by an actual court,” Turley says. “In a given year, federal judges conduct roughly 95,000 adjudicatory proceedings, including trials, while federal agencies complete more than 939,000.”

While Congress holds financial sway over the agencies it creates, its staffers can exercise oversight in only a small percentage of agency actions, Turley says. And when Congress tries to respond to reports of abuse, it often is met with claims of executive privilege, he adds. Though federal agencies report to the White House, “in practice, the agencies have evolved into largely independent entities over which the president has very limited control,” Turley says.

“The marginalization Congress feels is magnified for citizens, who are routinely pulled into the vortex of an administrative state that allows little challenge or appeal,” Turley says. “The IRS scandal is the rare case in which internal agency priorities are forced into the public eye.”

Hat tip to PrawfsBlawg.

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