Last year, the Manhattan Institute sponsored two books on the administrative state: The Dubious Morality of Administrative Law (Rowman & Littlefield), by visiting scholar Richard A. Epstein; and The Unelected: How an Unaccountable Elite is Governing America (Encounter), by senior fellow and director of legal policy James R. Copland. Each offers a detailed account of the evolution and current state of the American regulatory apparatus—and of the problems with it. Taken together, these books argue that the administrative state is at odds with other principles that we hold dear, with Epstein focusing on how the administrative state undermines the rule of law and Copland exploring how it conflicts with norms of popular representation.
With a change in presidential administration and a 50–50 Senate––as well as shifts in the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court––the issues explored in these books are as salient as ever. In its first week alone, the Biden administration issued an unprecedented flurry of executive orders, shifting government policy on a host of issues ranging from pipeline permits and wetlands regulation to rules governing college sexual assaults and gender identity.
In this MI virtual event, Epstein and Copland will discuss a variety of topics related to the administrative state, including the reach of independent federal agencies, questions of statutory and regulatory interpretation, and the role of executive guidance and enforcement.