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Spring 2023 Reading Group

Constitutional Dimensions of the Administrative State: Comparative Perspectives

Prerequisite: 1L Constitutional Law or Constitutional Law: Separation of Powers

Exam Type: No Exam

Administrative law in the United States is often viewed as a category quite distinct from constitutional law.  Yet public administration is, for some, at the core of constitutionalism, in so far as it governs the relationships between citizens and government across a wide range of areas. The constitutional role of executive departments and administrative agencies has become increasingly contentious, as discussed, for example, in Stephen Skowronek et al, Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic (2021). This course will explore the relationships between constitutionalism and public administration, between constitutional law and administrative law, in the United States and in other constitutional democracies.  Specific topics are likely to include the constitutional role and degree of independence of the civil service and of “Fourth Branch” institutions designed to protect integrity and competence; the “deep state” as concept and critique;  constitutional variations between and among parliamentary and presidential systems that affect the execution of laws; the constitutional roles of legislatures, after enacting laws, in supervising their administration; the role of courts in reviewing challenges to executive/ administrative actions or omissions; the role of chief executives, heads of department or ministers in issuing regulations and administering the law; and constitutions as facilitating or obstructing effective and rights-respecting administration of public law.

If a student has a particular interest in writing a substantial paper on a topic related to comparative constitutional law, and also has an interest in the Reading Group, please email Professor Jackson, copying her Faculty Assistant, to discuss the possibilities for enrolling in the course.

Note: This reading group will meet on the following dates: 1/23, 2/6, 2/20, 3/6, 3/27, 4/17.