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When Is Administrative Adjudication Appropriate?

Many administrative agencies have their own specialized courts. What sort of issues do these judges properly consider? Professor Ilan Wurman gives examples of obvious cases that these courts are meant to address, while also explaining instances where administrative courts may be improperly imitating Article III courts. https://youtube.com/watch?v=36OLYfsRLAI


Agencies which again are part of the executive branch often adjudicate cases that implicate someone's liberty and property, and this raises serious questions as to whether agencies are unlawfully exercising judicial power that belongs to the federal courts. Well, the answer is somewhat complicated. There are easy cases which agencies clearly can't do. Agencies have no power to deprive someone of life. Agencies have no power to deprive someone of liberty in the sense of giving them a term of imprisonment. Those are core judicial powers that belong to the courts of the United States. In other words, there's a question as to whether agencies today are adjudicating disputes of the kind that historically should have been heard by Article Three courts with federal judges who have lifetime tenure and salary protections. On the other side, there are also easy cases where unquestionably agencies have the power to act. These are called public rights cases. These are cases involving one individual and the government where the government is not seeking to deprive that individual of liberty or property. Rather the individual is seeking something from the government, like a land grant, or a patent, or veteran's pensions, or a claim for money damages. These are called public rights cases and the executive branch can hear them because the executive branch was historically understood to have sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity means that the government doesn't have to consent to be sued. Well, if the government doesn't have to consent to be sued, then surely it can consent to be sued on certain conditions like an adjudication in an administrative agency within the executive branch.

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