1. Start your study of administrative law by realizing that administrative agencies affect
our lives to a substantial extent. Look at Exhibit 1-1 and note the issues listed and the
agencies that have a role in dealing with that issue.
2. Realize that administrative law affects us in our daily lives. Look at Exhibit 1-6,
which shows the agencies involved in setting up and running a restaurant. Think of
the many ways that an administrative agency has affected you or a family member in
such areas as Social Security, workers’ compensation, or the processing of a driver’s
license or student loan.
3. Take a look at the Administrative Law Summary (Appendix E), which gives an
overview of the entire field of administrative law. Note the powers of the agencies,
and then note the controls on those powers. The text will follow the pattern of
showing how agencies are created, what powers they possess, and how agencies are
controlled. The statute that creates the agency is called the enabling act. See Exhibit
1-7, which shows how the Department of Homeland Security was created by the
4. Administrative agencies are part of the government at the federal, state, and local
levels. Look at Exhibit 1-2 to see an overview of the federal government; Exhibit 1-3,
which shows the shared power of federal and state agencies; and Exhibit 1-4, which
lays out how agencies fit into the structure of separation of powers. Exhibit 1-4 also
lists the three powers possessed by agencies, which are legislative, executive, and
judicial. These powers will be covered in following chapters.
5. Remember that legislatures pass statutes, but agencies issue regulations, which are
also called rules. The rules issued by the agencies implement the statute and fill in the
gaps of the statutes. For example, Congress might pass a statute that says “we must
clean up the air and clean up the water.” The Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) is then tasked with the job of issuing regulations to clean up the air and water.
Regulations are also known as rules. Regulations are the directives that agencies issue
to tell us what to do. Regulations are very familiar to us all. Look at the nutritional
content on a bag of potato chips. Take notice at a construction site and see the
workers wearing hard hats. What must we do to apply for workers’ compensation or
unemployment benefits? These and other areas of life we take for granted are
managed by administrative agencies.
6. Why do legislatures create agencies to do the work? Agencies offer numerous
advantages which include flexibility, efficiency, and expertise. Members of the
legislature do not have the time or expertise to deal with such complex issues as
nuclear power or analysis of toxic compounds, so agencies with staffs of experts are
designated to do it.
7. Delegation is a difficult issue to grasp, but think of delegation as the transfer of power
from a legislature to the agency through the passage of the enabling act. Delegations
of power today are generally upheld as constitutional, but there was a time when the
U.S. Supreme Court struck down certain laws as an unconstitutional delegation of
power. The limit on the delegation of power is known as the nondelegation doctrine
(see Exhibit 1-9). To see a synopsis of Supreme Court cases on delegation, see
Exhibit 1-10. The Supreme Court has not struck down an enabling act as an
unconstitutional delegation of power since the 1930s in the New Deal Era. To see a
historical overview on the development of agencies, see Exhibit 1-11.
8. Note the different sources of administrative law, which include the U.S. Constitution,
statutes, and regulations. A key federal statute that you should be very familiar with is
the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The APA is a federal statute which
describes how federal agencies do their work. States have their own version of the
APA, which sets out how state agencies do their work.
9. To get an overview of the numerous agencies, look at Exhibits 1-12 through 1-16.
Exhibit 1-12 is a list of the president’s cabinet and includes the subagencies of the
cabinet. Exhibit 1-13 is an organizational chart of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Exhibit 1-14 is a list of the agencies of the state government of Pennsylvania. The
types of the various agencies are outlined in Exhibit 1-15, and the kinds of agencies
are outlined in Exhibit 1-16.
10. You are learning how powerful and pervasive agencies are, but look at Exhibit 1-17
to see the limits of administrative law. Agencies do not decide in criminal matters nor
settle civil disputes between private parties.