Three Views of the Administrative State: Lessons from Collins v. Yellen
2020-2021 Cato Supreme Court Review 141 (2021)
24 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2021
Date Written: September 20, 2021
In Collins v. Yellen, the Supreme Court held that the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s structure violates the separation of powers because the president cannot remove the FHFA’s head at will. By itself, that constitutional holding — which significantly expands upon earlier precedent — makes Collins an important case. The Court, however, also resolved a statutory question worth billions of dollars and issued an important remedial decision regarding unconstitutional restrictions on presidential removal. Drawing on the author’s experience as Court-appointed amicus in Collins, this essay examines all three aspects of the Court’s decision and explores what Collins as a whole says about the modern administrative state. In particular, this essay argues that Collins demonstrates that federal power is ubiquitous in the housing sector, the White House has extensive control over that power, and the Court is reluctant to provide much relief to private plaintiffs.
Keywords: administrative law, administrative state, removal, housing, federal power, president, separation of powers, White House, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Supreme Court
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