Executive Control of Agency Adjudication: Capacity, Selection and Precedential Rulemaking
49 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2021 Last revised: 20 Sep 2021
Date Written: April 19, 2021
While the volume of adjudication by federal agencies far outstrips the volume of cases decided by the federal judiciary, researchers have devoted relatively little attention to agency adjudication and political control thereof. We study three mechanisms of presidential control of immigration adjudication: capacity-building, selection, and precedential rulemaking. First, consistent with work on bureaucratic capacity, the Trump administration achieved its goal of increasing removals of noncitizens through an unprecedented increase in total hiring of immigration judges. Second, contrary to expectations from the literatures on judicial behavior and bureaucratic politics, we find little evidence of partisan effects in immigration judge selection. Third, we demonstrate the substantial power of what we call “precedential rulemaking” – the power by the Attorney General to select cases in which to issue binding precedent. These results illustrate the importance of incorporating mechanisms of supervisory and legal control into the study of administrative courts.
Keywords: administrative law, administrative adjudication, immigration
JEL Classification: K27
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation