Racial Justice and Administrative Procedure

U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 22-41

97 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. __ (forthcoming)

29 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2022

See all articles by Sophia Z. Lee

Sophia Z. Lee

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Date Written: September 21, 2022


This article argues that commemorating the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) should involve accounting for the role it has played in both advancing and thwarting racial justice, as well as the role racial justice advocates have played in shaping its interpretation. The APA was not designed to advance racial justice; indeed, its provisions insulated some of the mid-twentieth century's most racially pernicious policies from challenge. Yet racial justice advocates have long understood that administrative agencies could be a necessary or even uniquely receptive target for their efforts and the APA shaped those calculations. Along the way, racial justice advocates left their mark on administrative law, including an underappreciated role in administrative law's participatory turn. Better understanding the interaction of racial justice and administrative procedure, I argue, would benefit historical and legal scholarship on race, administrative law, and their many underexplored yet consequential intersections.

Keywords: Administrative law, racial equality, discrimination, civil rights, civil liberties, Administrative Procedure Act, APA, policy statement, federal agencies, adjudication, notice-and-comment rulemaking, Black Efforts for Soul in Television, guidance, FCC

Suggested Citation

Lee, Sophia Z., Racial Justice and Administrative Procedure (September 21, 2022). U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 22-41, 97 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. __ (forthcoming), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4225979

Sophia Z. Lee (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-573-7790 (Phone)

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