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Administrative License Renewal and Due Process — A Case Study

64 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2017 Last revised: 17 Jul 2017

Delcianna Winders

Harvard Law School Animal Law & Policy Program

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 piece 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 do 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 more important animal protection law, the AWA governs more than 1 million animals at over 15,000 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—and failed—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). Florida State University Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Delcianna Winders (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School Animal Law & Policy Program ( email )

1585 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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