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Tocqueville’s NightmareThe Administrative State Emerges in America, 1900-1940$
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Daniel R. Ernst

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199920860

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199920860.001.0001

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(p.28) 2 Hughes
Tocqueville’s Nightmare

Daniel R. Ernst

Oxford University Press

No person has a better claim to being the judicial architect of America's peculiarly legalistic administrative state than Charles Evans Hughes. The proper design of administration occupied him throughout his public career as an investigator of corrupt business-government relations, a governor who created the nation's leading public utility commission, an associate justice of the US Supreme Court, and an appellate lawyer. As a justice, he revised A. V. Dicey’s court-centered notion of the rule of law when fashioning doctrines that gave administrators great discretion. By 1920, he had decided that the reform of administrative procedure was the best way to reconcile autonomous bureaucracy with the rule of law. He never completely abandoned the judicial review of findings of fact, however. In the 1920s, as litigation over rate regulation grew oppressively long, pluralist-minded reformers cast him as a conservative apologist of big business and opposed his confirmation as chief justice in 1930.

Keywords:   associate justice, administrative procedure, bureaucracy, A.V. Dicey, Charles Evans Hughes, public utility commission, rate regulation, rule of law, US Supreme Court

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