Although most of the first-year curriculum is devoted to understanding the development of common law, today's world is shaped to a large extent by the work of Congress and administrative agencies. This course is designed to introduce you to a critical part of our legal landscape: the ways in which laws are made by Congress and administrative agencies, and interpreted by courts and agencies, in the modern administrative state.
Part I will cover statutes and their interpretation by courts. We will focus primarily on statutory interpretation by federal courts, but we will also briefly examine the work of state courts in this arena. Part II will cover the structure and function of the regulatory state, including the constitutional position of administrative agencies. Part III will cover the regulatory process, judicial review of agency action, and agency statutory interpretation. Throughout the course, we will consider how the power to make, interpret, implement, and enforce laws is allocated among the branches of government; the relative strengths and weakness of each institution; and the checks imposed on each branch of government. Interpreting statutes and understanding agency rulemaking is a skill, just like learning to read and distinguish cases. To that end, we will look at primary source materials - statutes, legislative history, agency rules, and executive orders - in addition to cases and secondary sources. We will also consider, from a practical perspective, how lawyers use these materials in a courtroom setting.
Grades will be based on your performance on a final 3.5-hour exam; I will also take class participation into account.