Selected Papers of Homer Cummings, Attorney General of the United States, 1933-1939

By Carl Brent Swisher; Homer S. Cummings | Go to book overview

4. Administrative Procedure-- A Final Suggestion

[The sharp increase in number of federal administrative agencies of every type--commissions, boards, corporations, administrations, officers, administrators, and the like, both "in" and independently of existing executive departments--and the spread and nature of newly granted powers, have served to focus attention upon the procedure and operation of administrative officers and agencies in recent years. An imposing array of books on the subject have appeared since the World War, and articles on "administrative law" have filled legal journals for a decade or more (though no such title appears in the index to the official reports of the Supreme Court of the United States). Since 1933 the American Bar Association has had a special committee at work on the problem, and the Association's annual awards for legal discussions have been limited to the same subject. Public documents and official hearings, both congressional and executive, contain a growing body of materials. State agencies, such as the New York Constitutional Convention of 1938, have occasionally recanvassed the subject. In England, the Lord Chancellor in 1929 appointed a Committee on Ministers' Powers to consider developments in the field and make recommendations "to secure the constitutional principles of the sovereignty of Parliament and the supremacy of the Law." Its report is a standard reference.

The enforcement and defense of administrative orders or actions, in the courts, is one of the duties of the Attorney General and his staff. Thus the diverse legal phases of administration come before the Department of Justice in one form or another. As early as August 1933, in his first address before the American Bar Association, Attorney General Cummings placed this among the unusual and difficult problems which confronted the new administration (see Modern Tendencies and the Law, 19 A.B.A.J. 576, 578). He spoke more fully in his lectures at the University of Virginia in 1934 (see Liberty Under Law and Administration, Scribners, 1934). In numerous other writings, addresses and papers he touched various aspects of the problem. Ed.]

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