Administrative Law and Procedure

As Written by Prof. William F. Fox Jr. In the broadest sense, administrative law involves the study of how those parts of our system of government that are neither legislatures nor courts make decisions. These entities, referred to as administrative agencies, are normally located in the executive branch of government and are usually charged with the day–to–day details of governing. Agencies are created and assigned specific tasks by the legislature. The agencies carry out these tasks by making decisions of various sorts and supervising the procedures by which the decisions are carried out. For example, Congress has charged the federal Social Security Administration (SSA) with the administration of the nation’s social security program. Under that mandate, SSA does two things: (1) it makes general social security policy (within the terms of the statute, of course) and (2) it processes individual applications for, and terminations of, social security benefits. Affected persons who disagree with the agency’s decisions on either the substance of the social security program or the procedures under which that program is implemented—and whose grievances are not resolved within the agency—are permitted to take their dispute into federal court for resolution. Occasionally, aggrieved persons return to the legislative branch in an attempt to persuade Congress to alter the statute under which the social security program functions.


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