Substance and Procedure in Local Administrative Law

54 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2021

Date Written: April 12, 2021


Although administrative law scholars have devoted thousands of law review pages to debating the optimal mix of substantive, procedural, and political constraints on federal agency decision-making, when it comes to local administrative agencies, these questions have largely gone unexplored. The lack of attention to local administrative agencies is striking given the sheer breadth of local administration, and the important role that local agencies play in individuals’ day-to-day lives. This Article begins to fill this gap. In doing so, it takes as its jumping off point the familiar set of arguments in federal administrative law about the role of procedures and substantive judicial review in the administrative process, and it considers to what extent these same arguments might apply to local agencies as well. It argues that substantive judicial review may be especially important at the local level, and that many of the concerns that scholars have expressed about the distorting effects of judicial review are less applicable to the local context. At the same time, it argues that procedural requirements—such as notice-and- comment rulemaking—may be much less effective at ensuring the quality of local agency decision-making, particularly when procedures are not backed by the threat of substantive judicial review.

Keywords: local government law, local administrative law, administrative law, judicial review

Suggested Citation

Ponomarenko, Maria, Substance and Procedure in Local Administrative Law (April 12, 2021). University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Maria Ponomarenko (Contact Author)

University of Texas School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States

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