“Is Administrative Law Unlawful? is a work of the very highest quality, a learned scholarly exegesis setting out the intellectual foundations—in medieval and early modern English constitutional thought—for the proposition that the contemporary American administrative state is profoundly unconstitutional and unlawful. Philip Hamburger’s argument is intricately wrought and forcefully expressed. Its indictment of modern administration in America doubles as a major statement on the virtues of a genuinely constitutional government.”
(Ken I. Kersch, Boston College)
"With characteristic erudition, Philip Hamburger shows how virtually every aspect of the modern administrative state undermines the Anglo-American legal tradition—or at least that part of the tradition that most informed the American founding. It is a provocative thesis, but one that is amply supported by extensive scholarly argument and fascinating historical study. Hamburger makes an impressive case that modern administrative law owes its lineage to claims of monarchical prerogative and civil law absolutism that were precisely the ideas that the American revolution was trying to reject. This is a tremendously important book."
(Gary S. Lawson, Boston University School of Law)
“An important new book that is very much worth reading."
(National Review, Bench Memos
"The most important book I have read in a long time."
(Scott Johnson Power Line
“The administrative state is a modern invention. It was, and remains, a necessity in our complex modern age. Or so goes the argument. . . . Hamburger meticulously (and sometimes laboriously) demonstrates how the modern administrative state revives all the attributes of the royal prerogative and absolute power.”
(Ilan Wurman Weekly Standard
“A serious work of legal scholarship. . . . This is a book that rewards the reader with a deepened understanding of the Constitution and the challenges that confront us in the task of restoration. . . . The news of the day repeatedly buttresses the powerful case Hamburger makes against the legitimacy of the vast administrative apparatus that does so much to dictate the way we live now. It is a book not only of this season but of many seasons to come.”
“An interesting new work by Philip Hamburger dispenses with the tiresome back and forth between Republicans and Democrats. Instead, it focuses on Washington’s permanent administration—the ever-expanding federal bureaucracies that have come to play a central role in health care, finance, housing and work, and large roles in education, energy and whatever else constitutes the American system. . . . Hamburger’s book is filled with details of how the centralisation of power divorced from a popular or court mandate leads to insularity and even insurrection as hopes of efficiency and expertise give way to bureaucratic inertia.”
“[Is Administrative Law Unlawful?] is the author’s most ambitious, even daring, work, for not only does it question important features of administrative law; it challenges (as the title suggests) their very legality. . . . Deeply researched and well written, the book is a veritable cornucopia of fresh and significant insights that will greatly enrich the existing literature. It is a work of encyclopedic breadth and erudition, confirming that its author is equally comfortable with grand themes and matters of granular detail.”
(Claremont Review of Books
“Hamburger argues persuasively that America has overlaid its constitutional system with a form of governance that is both alien and dangerous. . . . Some readers undoubtedly will find daunting this book’s length. . . . But it is lucidly written and carefully organized, and certainly it is no small task to analyze just how deeply the administrative state threatens liberty and constitutionalism. Scholars will return to Hamburger’s exhaustive explication of these issues for a long time to come.”
(Law and Politics Book Review
“Immensely important. . . . Hamburger indicts the entire structure of executive-agency rulemaking as illegitimate. . . . An argument of deep passion, learning, intelligence, and consequence that deserves to reach the widest possible audience.”
About the Author
Philip Hamburger is the Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law at Columbia Law School.