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Administrative Law - Who Holds the Power?

Administrative law refers to the legal division of law which governs the actions of many administrative agencies of state governments. Government agency activity can consist of the adjudication of a particular regulatory agenda, rule making or the implementation of such a regulatory agenda. Administrative law is now considered a major branch of public law. Examples of agencies which fall within the ambit of administrative law are the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor, and FDA.

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In contrast to judicial review, which is designed to ensure compliance with the Constitutions enacted by our nation’s citizens, administrative law exercises supreme and exclusive power in the determination of what is required by the Constitutions and amendments made by our nation’s States. For example, a State Supreme Court may rule that certain laws passed by the legislature of the State are beyond the power of the General Assembly (the legislature of the State) to enact into law.


Or an administrative authority may invalidate a law adopted by the State legislature on the ground that it exceeded the constitutional power conferred upon the State.

Although historically administrative law was created to promote the growth of regulated industries and protect the rights of individuals under the state delegations, today the courts consider administrative law to be one more branch of public policy management.


The courts then have the power to order the State to remedy the violation or to conform its actions to the Constitutional commands involved. If not, the courts can declare a law void and require the State to re-establish the legislature voted for the law.

This opinion is not limited to the welfare state, but has also pervaded all branches of government including the executive, judicial, administrative, and legislative branches. The welfare state as well as most of the regulatory agencies fall within the realm of administrative law.


Therefore, any challenge to the validity of a regulation or initiative must begin in the court of law, not the legislature.