Agency Adjudication: It Is Time to Hit the Reset Button

11 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2020

See all articles by Richard J. Pierce

Richard J. Pierce

George Washington University Law School

Date Written: August 31, 2020


In this contribution to a symposium in honor of the 75 th Anniversary of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) Professor Pierce describes the history of agency adjudication from the 1930s until the present. He concludes that the passage of the APA in 1946 responded well to the widespread criticisms of the agency adjudication process during the 1930s. The APA required agencies to use procedures that confer on participants in agency adjudications procedural rights analogous to those available in federal courts and conferred on Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) a degree of decisional independence analogous to the assurances of independence that federal judges enjoy. The agency adjudication process has evolved since 1946 in ways that have undermined all of the beneficial characteristics of the process that Congress created in 1946. The future of the agency adjudication process is grim unless we make major changes. Professor Pierce describes three ways in which we might be able to rescue the agency adjudication process.

Suggested Citation

Pierce, Richard J., Agency Adjudication: It Is Time to Hit the Reset Button (August 31, 2020). GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2020-54, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2020-54, Available at SSRN:

Richard J. Pierce (Contact Author)

George Washington University Law School ( email )

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