administrative law; unitary executive theory


Unitary executive theory has taken hold of the administrative state, motivated by the view that agencies constitute a rogue fourth branch of government. Emboldened by the U.S. Supreme Court, the President has begun to interfere with administrative accountability to important criteria including statutory procedural requirements that impact both public participation and administrative due process, the expectation that agencies engage neutral expertise to implement the law, and the obligations of judicial review. As a result, this Essay argues, rather than constituting a fourth branch that is unaccountable to the President, the administrative state has been encouraged by the President and courts to become unaccountable to Congress. It is possible, however, that congressional and judicial oversight and intervention could encourage administration that is more consistent both with legislative mandates and norms that legitimate the administrative state.