Administrative License Renewal and Due Process — A Case Study

54 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2017 Last revised: 14 Dec 2018

Date Written: April 12, 2017


Scholars have recently noted the paucity of scholarship on administrative licenses as especially significant given the prevalence — indeed ubiquity — of administrative licenses today. This Article contributes to filling that void by tackling an aspect of administrative licensing that has received especially little attention and, as a result, has been a source of serious confusion: license renewals. As this Article details, administrative license renewal practices raise interesting and important questions about administrative law and procedural due process. Does one have a property interest in a license after that license expires by its terms? Is an agency’s decision not to renew a license more akin to denying an initial license application or to suspending or revoking an active license?

This Article answers these questions and then applies those answers to one particular context — the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Our nation’s most important animal protection law, the AWA governs more than 2.5 million animals held by nearly eleven thousand locations. And yet, by all accounts, it is woefully underenforced. As this Article discusses, that underenforcement is seriously aggravated by the practice of automatically renewing AWA licenses, even in the face of egregious violations. After analyzing recent litigation that has tried to challenge this practice, the Article concludes with policy proposals to address the automatic renewal problem while also assuring fairness.

Keywords: Licensing, Permitting, Procedural Due Process, Animal Welfare Act

JEL Classification: K20, K23, K42

Suggested Citation

Winders, Delcianna, Administrative License Renewal and Due Process — A Case Study (April 12, 2017). 45 FLA. L. REV. 539 (2018), Available at SSRN: or

Delcianna Winders (Contact Author)

Lewis & Clark Law School ( email )

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
United States

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