Trumping American Administrative Law
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
T: 03 8344 1011
America has a new President. Yet unlike parliamentary systems, the American Constitution does not assure its chief executive political control of the legislature. The chance for divided government thus arises every two years with legislative elections: in fact, American government had been divided since the by-elections of 2010 ended Democrat control of the House of Representatives. Unable to secure legislative cooperation, Congress’s highly partisan opposition to President Obama during his last six years in office prompted him, even more than Presidents Bush and Clinton before him, to claim ownership of a variety of regulatory actions using authority that Congress had conferred on administrative bodies, not the President.
President Trump, reflecting his campaign rhetoric, has issued executive order after executive order during his first ten days in office. These actions embody the views both that he is in charge, and that regulation has been excessive. His authoritarian stance builds on an attitude towards the presidency that has been steadily growing at least since President Nixon: that the President is not just responsible to oversee, but is entitled to command the work of executive government. His orders have proved at least as disturbing to Democrats as President Obama’s were to Republicans, and (like them) have resulted in strong legal challenges.
Administrative law inevitably straddles the worlds of politics and law, and it could be that the future holds significant possibilities for rebalancing the relationships between Congress, President and Court both among themselves and with respect to the administrative bodies responsible for the daily work of domestic government. Professor Strauss’s talk will explore this evolving balance between politics and law in American administrative law in the era of President Trump.
Professor Peter Strauss, Betts Professor of Law
Professor Peter Strauss
Betts Professor of Law
Peter L. Strauss is the Betts Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. He is a leading scholar of American administrative law, and senior author of its most enduring teaching materials. His scholarly writings have tended to focus on structural issues in American government, and the American process for creating regulations, as well as issues of statutory interpretation. Throughout his career, Professor Strauss’s work has sought to explain American administrative law to lawyers and law students in other legal systems, as is exemplified in his most recent book, Administrative Justice in the United States (3rd ed. 2016). Recipient of numerous academic honours in recognition of his distinguished scholarship in administrative law, Professor Strauss was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2010.