Few Americans spend much time thinking about the vagaries of administrative law—the rules and procedures our government uses in formulating and enforcing regulations—let alone its effects on our lives and liberties. Anyone warning of the imminent demise of Americans’ liberties is likely to be dismissed as a kook. Anyone claiming to find such dangers in the actions of fussy little bureaucrats toiling in the bowels of federal agencies most likely would be simply laughed at.
Philip Hamburger, a distinguished legal historian teaching at Columbia Law School, has no alarmist, overwrought story to tell. Nonetheless, his latest book is intended to spark reconsideration among lawyers, political scientists, and educated citizens about the effects of administrative law on American government and on Americans’ rights and liberties. His central point: Administrative law is—not tends toward, not encourages, but in itself is—a form of arbitrary power inconsistent with our traditions of ordered liberty.
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