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A Civic Republican Justification for the Bureaucratic State

66 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2008  

Mark Seidenfeld

Florida State University College of Law


Scholars have debated the legitimacy of the modern administrative state since its rise in the early twentieth century. This article argues that the political theory of civic republicanism, with its emphasis on citizen participation in government and deliberative decisionmaking, provides the best justification for the American bureaucracy. Beginning with an analysis of civic republican theory, the article notes that it promises greater citizen involvement in political decisionmaking, yet at the same time threatens to increase government power. The article finds that the current regime of administrative law neither allows for the full realization of civic republicanism's potential, nor guards against its dangers. It therefore suggests political and legal reforms applicable to the three branches of government and the bureaucracy itself.

Suggested Citation

Seidenfeld, Mark, A Civic Republican Justification for the Bureaucratic State. Harvard Law Review, Vol. 105, p. 1511, 1992. Available at SSRN:

Mark Seidenfeld (Contact Author)

Florida State University College of Law ( email )

425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States
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850-644-5487 (Fax)


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