The Federalist Society's Faculty Division will host a roundtable discussion, titled "Congress, Delegation, and the Administrative State," at the 2016 American Political Science Association's Annual Meeting in Philadelphia on September 2nd. We invite anyone planning to attend the conference to join us for what promises to be an excellent discussion featuring:
- Lee Drutman, New America Foundation & The Johns Hopkins University
- Gordon Lloyd, Pepperdine University & Ashbrook Center
- Daniel H. Lowenstein, UCLA School of Law
- Neomi Rao, George Mason University Antonin Scalia School of Law
- Moderator: Michael Uhlmann, Claremont Graduate University
If you plan to attend, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
Abstract: In Federalist 51, Madison explained that the Constitution’s division of powers was designed not only to assign different powers to different branches, but also to design the branches so that each would have the necessary tools to protect its own authority. Doing this would enable ambition to counteract ambition and thus protect against “a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department.” Madison also believed that the branch most likely to try to encroach on the other branches was the legislature, because “In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates.”
It therefore might come as something of a surprise that over the course of the past century, Congress has voluntarily ceded (in function if not also in form) considerable control over national governance to a variety of executive branch and/or independent agencies, to the point that it has arguably not only ceded much of its natural primacy in domestic affairs but has also found it difficult to reassert itself on many major questions – including even through its clearest trump card, the power of the purse. Why has Congress passed on much of its authority to the executive branch and to administrative agencies? Was Madison simply wrong about the inherent powers of the legislative branch? Has the institution of Congress developed practices that are not compatible with the text of the Constitution? Does this account for its weakness? What does it mean to serve productively as a member of the House or Senate? Can Congress reassert its authority over the administrative state? To what extent are these issues unique to the United States or simply part of the speed at which decisions must get made in the 21st century, given the velocity of modern transportation and communications? Is legislative leadership in domestic affairs still possible under these conditions? Is it desirable? This roundtable will explore these and related questions.