'No' Review of Philip Hamburger, 'Is Administrative Law Unlawful?'

24 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2014 Last revised: 4 Dec 2014

Date Written: August 28, 2014


Philip Hamburger has had a vision, a dark vision of lawless and unchecked power. He wants us to see that American administrative law is “unlawful” root-and-branch, indeed that it is tyrannous -- that we have recreated, in another guise, the world of executive “prerogative” that would have obtained if James II had prevailed, and the Glorious Revolution never occurred. The administrative state stands outside, and above, the law.

But before criticism, there must first come understanding. There is too much in this book about Charles I and Chief Justice Coke, about the High Commission and the dispensing power. There is not enough about the Administrative Procedure Act, about administrative law judges, about the statutes, cases and arguments that rank beginners in the subject are expected to learn and know. The book makes crippling mistakes about the administrative law of the United States; it misunderstands what that body of law actually holds and how it actually works. As a result the legal critique, launched by five-hundred-odd pages of text, falls well wide of the target.

Suggested Citation

Vermeule, Adrian, 'No' Review of Philip Hamburger, 'Is Administrative Law Unlawful?' (August 28, 2014). Texas Law Review, Forthcoming, Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 14-34, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2488724

Adrian Vermeule (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1525 Massachusetts
Griswold 500
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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