Law and Politics: Occasional Papers of Felix Frankfurter, 1913-1938

By Felix Frankfurter; Archibald MacLeish et al. | Go to book overview

The Task of Administrative Law

One of Mr. Frankfurters chief interests has been administrative law and the actual administration of public policies. It was as Byrne Professor of Administrative Law that he served on the Harvard Law School faculty. The following selection appeared as an article in the University of Pennsylvania Law Reviewfor May, 1927 (Vol. 75, p. 614).

THE WIDENING area of what in effect is law-making authority, exercised by officials whose actions are not subject to ordinary court review, constitutes perhaps the most striking contemporary tendency of the Anglo-American legal order. The massive volumes of Statutory Rules and Orders, published annually since 1890, testify to the pervasive domain of delegated legislation in Great Britain. The formulation and publication of executive orders and rules and regulations are in this country still in a primitive stage, which only serves to render more portentous the operation of these forms of law. But the range of control conferred by Congress and the state legislatures upon subsidiary law-making bodies, variously denominated as heads of departments, commissions and boards, penetrates in the United States, as in Great Britain and the Dominions, the whole gamut of human affairs. Hardly a measure passes Congress the effective execution of which is not conditioned upon rules and regulations emanating from the enforcing authorities. These administrative complements are euphemistically called "filling in the details" of a policy set forth in statutes. But the "details" are of the essence; they give meaning and content to vague contours. The control of banking, insurance, public utilities, finance, industry, the professions, health and morals, in sum, the manifold response of

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