Introduction to Symposium on Administrative Statutory Interpretation
7 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2009
One of the most significant developments in public law over the past quarter-century has been the resurgence of interest in statutory interpretation. Until recently, virtually all of this scholarship has focused on the judiciary’s proper role in carrying out this enterprise in a representative democracy with separated powers. It is increasingly understood, however, that the judiciary does not have primary responsibility for interpreting statutes in the modern regulatory state. Rather, this task is performed initially, and often exclusively, by administrative agencies and other executive officials who have been delegated authority to implement federal programs. Yet, the manner in which the executive branch does and should carry out this task has only recently begun to receive scholarly attention.
This Symposium brings together some of the nation’s leading scholars of administrative law and legislation to build on this early work. These scholars were asked to (1) comment on the manner in which administrative agencies and other executive officials interpret regulatory statutes; (2) offer normative propositions that could guide the executive branch in this enterprise; and (3) explore the relevance of this learning for the judiciary when it reviews the validity of agency action or interprets statutes in other contexts. As this brief introductory essay explains, the contributions address these and other related questions from a variety of historical, empirical, and normative perspectives.
Keywords: administrative law, executive branch, statutory interpretation, separation of powers, public administration
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