Social Philosophy and Policy



THE PROGRESSIVE ORIGINS OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE STATE: WILSON, GOODNOW, AND LANDIS


Ronald J.  Pestritto  a1
a1 Hillsdale College, and the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy

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Abstract

The American administrative state is a feature of the new liberalism that is largely irreconcilable with the old, founding-era liberalism. At its core, the administrative state, with its delegation of legislative power to the bureaucracy, combination of functions within bureaucratic agencies, and weakening of presidential control over administration undercuts the separation-of-powers principle that is the base of the founders' Constitution. The animating idea behind the features of the administrative state is the separation of politics and administration, which was championed by James Landis, the New-Deal architect of the administrative state for President Franklin Roosevelt. The idea of separating politics and administration, and the faith such a separation requires in the objectivity of administrators, did not originate with Landis or the New Deal but, instead, with the Progressives who had come a generation earlier. Both Woodrow Wilson and Frank Goodnow were pioneers in advocating the separation of politics and administration, and made it the centerpiece of their broad arguments for constitutional reform.



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