The Enlightenment of Administrative Law: Looking Inside the Agency for Legitimacy




Fisher, Elizabeth
Shapiro, Sidney A.
Wagner, Wendy E.

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This article’s investigation into the “agency for legitimacy” proceeds in five steps: Part I introduces the concept of “administrative constitutionalism,” which encompasses the debate over what should be the role and nature of public administration to ensure its legitimacy. It then lays out the elements of the rational-instrumental and deliberative-constitutive paradigms and explains how they contribute to administrative constitutionalism respectively from the outside-in and inside-out. Part II provides a brief history of administrative constitutionalism, which reveals there have been ongoing tensions between two paradigms—and thus between outside in and inside out accountability—since the 1880s. Part III elaborates on the authors’ argument that the current emphasis on the rational-instrumental model has been administrative constitutionalism unsustainable. Part IV argues that acknowledging and developing the deliberative-constitutive paradigm will strengthen administrative constitutionalism by admitting the existence of agency discretion and by looking for realistic ways to make it accountable. Finally, Part V offers a case study in how the deliberative-constitutive paradigm can contribute to administrative constitutionalism.

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