Their Boot in Our Face No Longer? Administrative Sectionalism and Resistance to Federal Authority in the U.S. South
33 Pages Posted: 8 May 2018 Last revised: 1 Jun 2018
Date Written: March 8, 2018
What explains state agency resistance to actions taken by their federal counterparts? And do sectional tensions make state bureaucratic nonacquiescence particularly likely in the U.S. South We theorize that state resistance to federal administrative policy is more likely among Southern state bureaux due to administrative sectionalism. We argue that state agencies can and do resist federal administrative orders independent of other political constraints. This study is among the first to consider the policy consequences of sectionalism in state bureaucracies. We test our claims by employing a mixed methods approach that analyzes each instance of litigation and intervention by state bureaucrats in opposition to actions and orders by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) from 2010–2017. We find that, all else equal, state agency resistance to federal utility policy is more than four times as likely among Southern utility regulators. This research has important normative implications for administrative politics as it suggests agencies with putatively apolitical policy jurisdiction have political preferences driven by sectional tension.
Keywords: administrative politics, energy policy, federalism, intergovernmental relations, partisanship, sectionalism, Southern politics
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