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Law’s Abnegation

Law’s Abnegation

From Law’s Empire to the Administrative State

Adrian Vermeule

ISBN 9780674971448

Publication date: 11/14/2016

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Ronald Dworkin once imagined law as an empire and judges as its princes. But over time, the arc of law has bent steadily toward deference to the administrative state. Adrian Vermeule argues that law has freely abandoned its imperial pretensions, and has done so for internal legal reasons.

In area after area, judges and lawyers, working out the logical implications of legal principles, have come to believe that administrators should be granted broad leeway to set policy, determine facts, interpret ambiguous statutes, and even define the boundaries of their own jurisdiction. Agencies have greater democratic legitimacy and technical competence to confront many issues than lawyers and judges do. And as the questions confronting the state involving climate change, terrorism, and biotechnology (to name a few) have become ever more complex, legal logic increasingly indicates that abnegation is the wisest course of action.

As Law’s Abnegation makes clear, the state did not shove law out of the way. The judiciary voluntarily relegated itself to the margins of power. The last and greatest triumph of legalism was to depose itself.

Praise

  • Law's Abnegation is a theoretically informed, analytically rigorous, and, above all, lawyerly interpretation of the law of the modern administrative state. But it is much more than that. Vermeule also brilliantly deconstructs confused and myopic alternative accounts and, most importantly, demonstrates how legal doctrine really works from an internal perspective. Built on the foundation of cases familiar to most administrative lawyers, his analysis is nevertheless revelatory concerning the field's core commitments, why those commitments make sense, and how they cohere across a wide range of seemingly disparate topics.

    —Jerry L. Mashaw, Yale Law School

Awards

  • 2017, Winner of the Award for Scholarship in Administrative Law

Author

  • Adrian Vermeule is Ralph S. Tyler, Jr., Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School. His many books include Law’s Abnegation: From Law’s Empire to the Administrative State (Harvard) and The Constitution of Risk.

Book Details

  • 272 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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