The Administrative Law of Regulatory Slop and Strategy

by Robert L. Glicksman & Emily Hammond

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Abstract

Judicial review of agency behavior is often criticized as either interfering too much with agencies’ domains or doing too little to ensure fidelity to statutory directives and the rule of law. But the Trump administration has produced an unprecedented volume of agency actions that blatantly flout settled administrative-law doctrine. This phenomenon, which we term “regulatory slop,” requires courts to reinforce the norms of administrative law by adhering to established doctrine and paying careful attention to remedial options. In this Article, we document numerous examples of regulatory slop and canvass how the Trump agencies have fared in court thus far. We contend that traditional critiques of judicial review carry little force in such circumstances. Further, regulatory slop should be of concern regardless of one’s political leanings because it threatens the rule of law. Rather than argue for a change to substantive administrative-law doctrine, therefore, we take a close look at courts’ remedial options in such circumstances. We conclude that a strong approach to remedies can send corrective signals to agencies that reinforce both administrative-law values and the rule of law.

The Administrative Law of Regulatory Slop and Strategy

by Robert L. Glicksman & Emily Hammond

Click here for a PDF file of this article

Abstract

Judicial review of agency behavior is often criticized as either interfering too much with agencies’ domains or doing too little to ensure fidelity to statutory directives and the rule of law. But the Trump administration has produced an unprecedented volume of agency actions that blatantly flout settled administrative-law doctrine. This phenomenon, which we term “regulatory slop,” requires courts to reinforce the norms of administrative law by adhering to established doctrine and paying careful attention to remedial options. In this Article, we document numerous examples of regulatory slop and canvass how the Trump agencies have fared in court thus far. We contend that traditional critiques of judicial review carry little force in such circumstances. Further, regulatory slop should be of concern regardless of one’s political leanings because it threatens the rule of law. Rather than argue for a change to substantive administrative-law doctrine, therefore, we take a close look at courts’ remedial options in such circumstances. We conclude that a strong approach to remedies can send corrective signals to agencies that reinforce both administrative-law values and the rule of law.