The Political Origins of the Administrative Procedure Act

Posted: 29 Feb 2008 Last revised: 18 Feb 2017

See all articles by McNollgast

McNollgast

Duke University - Department of Political Science; Stanford University - Department of Political Science; Stanford University - Department of Economics

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University

Roger G. Noll

Stanford University - Department of Economics

Barry R. Weingast

Stanford University, Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 17, 2017

Abstract

For a decade after the passage of the Second New Deal, political leaders and many important interest groups fiercely debated what procedural requirements, if any, should be imposed on the new regulatory agencies. This debate led eventually to the passage of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) of 1946. The purpose of this article is to explain the significance of the various procedural requirements that were considered, and to develop and test a political theory of why some proposals were passed while others were rejected, and why a decade passed before legislation could succeed. Although the APA typically is seen as a codification of individual rights in a system or procedural due process, we argue that to answer these questions requires understanding the policy consequences of alternative procedural reforms. Thus we develop and test a political theory, based on the views of legislators about the proper role of the federal government in regulating business, that seeks to explain patterns of support and opposition to legislative reforms. We conclude that the dominant factor explaining these patterns is support for New Deal regulatory policy, and that the primary explanation for the failure of administrative reform proposals before World War II but their success later was the desire of New Deal Democrats to `hard wire` the policies of the New Deal against an expected Republican, anti-New Deal political tide in the late 1940s.

Suggested Citation

McNollgast and McCubbins, Mathew D. and Noll, Roger G. and Weingast, Barry R., The Political Origins of the Administrative Procedure Act (February 17, 2017). Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 180-217, 1999. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=832217

McNollgast

Duke University - Department of Political Science ( email )

140 Science Drive (Gross Hall), 2nd floor
Duke University Mailcode: 90204
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Stanford University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

Roger G. Noll

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States
650-723-2297 (Phone)
650-725-5702 (Fax)

Barry R. Weingast (Contact Author)

Stanford University, Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States
650-723-0497 (Phone)
650-723-1808 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.stanford.edu/group/mcnollgast/cgi-bin/wordpress/

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