March 25, 2019 - University of Virginia School of Law Professor Michael Livermore described how partisan volatility in American politics threatens effective administration during a presentation last week in the Hendricks Heritage Room at the University of Houston Law Center.
"Modern politics poses a very real threat to the U.S. administrative state," Livermore said. "Ideological positions are further apart, and swings between them are increasingly common. Cooperative incentives are low, and national partisan conflict extends to the states and the courts.
"While administrative law has in the past adapted to match new political realities, such an adjustment is not necessary or inevitable, as current doctrinal trends demonstrate."
Livermore said in order to increase the possibility of transforming administrative laws in ways that stabilize it, the realities of the current era of partisan volatility must be confronted.
"By doing so, law can facilitate administrative policymaking that is more stable and more forward-looking—grounding administration in the values of neutrality, expertise, and impartiality without sacrificing responsiveness to broad majoritarian desires," Livermore said.
"The goal of the administrative law should be to facilitate the flexibility to allow policy to responds to new circumstances, while insulating the administrative state from partisan whim. Historical experience provides some hope that accommodation of this sort is at least possible."
The Spring 2019 Distinguished Speaker Series will continue at noon every Monday in the Hendricks Heritage Room until April 8. The next speaker is Shelley Welton of the University of South Carolina School of Law.