'Saint George and the Dragon': Courts and the Development of the Administrative State in Twentieth-Century America
New Directions in Policy History 110 (Julian E. Zelizer ed., Pa. State Univ. Press 2005
17 J. Pol'y Hist. 110 (2005)
Posted: 7 Nov 2014
Date Written: January 1, 2005
This is a historiographical essay advising institutionally-focused political historians to consider the role that courts play in the administrative process. The essay describes the emergence of approaches to political history that are sensitive to the effect that the institutional structures of the state have on policy-making in the United States. It then notes that scholars who write this type of political history often dismiss the importance of courts to policy-making process, particularly after the rise of the modern administrative state in the twentieth century. The essay demonstrates that considering the role of the judiciary in the administrative process provides a more complete portrait of how institutional structures shape policy-making. It does so with two examples. The first describes the relationship between courts and the Department of Agriculture in the first decades of the twentieth century. The second examines how the judiciary shaped the development of the federal welfare bureaucracy in the 1960s and 1970s.
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