Nearly every significant policy issue addressed by the president and his advisors implicates questions of administrative law. During rule-making by federal agencies, and in defending lawsuits filed against the federal government, decision-making in the White House necessarily involves substantial consideration of administrative law.
This seminar addresses major policy issues including racial profiling by airline screeners, federal funding for stem cell research, "roadless rule" protections for national forests, regulation of carbon dioxide by the EPA, federal policy on same-sex marriage, legal protections for enemy combatants, restrictions on off-shore oil and gas drilling, and federal preemption of state failure-to-warn cases by the FDA. The seminar begins with an introduction to the structure and operation of the White House, with particular focus on the varied legal units that advise the president, and on the scope of presidential rulemaking, regulatory authority, and separation of powers. Following sessions each focus on a different public policy debate, highlighting the relevant legal (and non-legal) issues that the president and his advisors had to consider in making a final decision. For the remainder of the seminar, each student selects one public policy issue that has not been discussed. Students research the issue and assume the roles of presidential legal advisors in drafting short briefing papers and making in-class presentations arguing their position.