Administrative Law and Its Negative Effects

Administrative Law and Its Negative Effects


As administrative law begins to take a larger role in America today, it is becoming even more clear that allowing this type of system has negative effects. Though the system was set up to provide service to the public, the system is only actually harming the public as the administrations pull tighter on the strings of law. Federal agencies have begun to take matters into their own hands, enforcing rules that have caused problems for American citizens. Its direct effects can harm the economy, the traditional system of law set up originally by the constitution, and by extension freedom. Many have weighed in on the debate over the system of administrative law, with most of them stating that this type of system is unnecessary and unconstitutional.

Administrative law is defined by the Library of Congress as rules and regulations promulgated and enforced by an administrative body (or administrative agencies). These type of agencies are both federal and state. Three powers were given to the administrative agencies: rule-making, adjudicating, and investigating. This would be fine if the process of administrative law worked as it should. Though Congress passed the Administrative Procedure Act to regulate certain functions of administrative law, so administrative agencies would not conflict with Congress or the judicial court system, administrative agencies still have large powers on enacting rules and enforcing them.

Philip Hamburger of Columbia Law School compares these powers to the rules that kings of England, in much earlier centuries, had. He states that though there was a proper system in England, kings suddenly created their own powers and passed their own regulations, with all judicial systems being nearly forced to just go with it. He called this absolute power, though the modern term now is administrative law. At least that is how Hamburger sees it – administrative law is just a historical repeat of king exercised, absolute power.

Though some administrative law can be good, such as the Environmental Protection Agency passing regulations to protect the environment and fining those who do not, Hamburger argues that the original constitutional set up of government is enough to control justice and enforce regulations. In short, agencies were never given specific power to rule and fine citizens. He also specifically mentions that barring American activity to control pollution or restricting how citizens are allowed to use their land is only an attempt to exercise binding power.

Though administrative agencies were set up to supposedly help regulate modern society, as it has become more complex, allowing federal agencies to control citizens through administrative law has its negative effects. Originally everything went through the system of Congress, the president, etc. What many argue now is that administrative law does not take the proper avenues, as most of what is passed is just expected by the agencies, and does not actually create law but rather goes outside the law, by allowing individual agencies to create their own rules, which the public must follow or otherwise face reprimand.

Though the system was set up originally to help American citizens by providing things like national protection (Department of Homeland Security), environmental protection and climate control (Environmental Protection Agency), create safe medications (Food and Drug Administration), etc., what administrative law has actually done is just create more restrictions for Americans to live by. Especially when these rules take away our right to bare arms (if such laws are passed through the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau), impose on our right to free speech, or effect any of our constitutional rights as Americans. With some of the negative effects that administrative law can have on the lives of Americans, the agencies do not need more power to set regulations, they simply need less.

Opinion By Crystal Boulware


Library of Congress
Directory of Government Agencies