Theories of regulation conceptualize the task of the agencies of the modern state in terms of the public interest. Regulatory agencies, in this conventional view, should ensure the efficient allocation of scarce resources and secure distributive justice and democratic citizenship. Many agencies nicely fit this aggregative mold, but not all. A significant subset of the regulatory practice deals with a different task: delineating the terms of our interpersonal transactions, forming the infrastructure for our dealings with other people, both private individuals and firms. This Essay focuses on these relational regulators, which regulatory theory marginalizes or neglects.
Our mission is threefold. Descriptively, we show that many agencies are indeed best understood as devices that supplement or even supplant the role of courts in addressing horizontal, rather than vertical or aggregative, concerns. In other words, many of the practices and operational codes and sensibilities of these agencies are best conceptualized as responses to the horizontal challenges of the creation of the infrastructure for just interpersonal relations in core social settings, such as the workplace or the market.
Normatively, we argue that the seeming consensus among theorists of both regulation and private law, in which these tasks belong to judges, rather than administrators, is misguided. In many contexts – increasingly prevalent in contemporary society – agencies, rather than (or in addition to) courts, may well be the (or at least an additional) appropriate institution for the articulation, development, and vindication of our interpersonal rights.
Finally, jurisprudentially, we offer some initial steps towards a theory of relational regulatory agencies. We demonstrate the regulatory implications – in both substance and form – of undertaking the role of establishing and maintaining the infrastructure for just interpersonal interaction and advance a preliminary account of the regulatory toolkit appropriate to this relational task.'The Morality of Administrative Law' by Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule in (2018) Harvard Law Review comments
As it has been developed over a period of many decades, administrative law has acquired its own morality, closely related to what Lon Fuller described as the internal morality of law. Reflected in a wide array of seemingly disparate doctrines, but not yet recognized as such, the morality of administrative law includes a set of identifiable principles, often said to reflect the central ingredients of the rule of law. An understanding of the morality of administrative law puts contemporary criticisms of the administrative state in their most plausible light. At the same time, the resulting doctrines do not deserve an unambiguous celebration, because many of them have an ambiguous legal source; because from the welfarist point of view, it is not clear if they are always good ideas; and because it is not clear that judges should enforce them.'Norming in Administrative Law' by Jonathan S. Masur and Eric A. Posner in (2019) 68 Duke Law Journal (Forthcoming) comments
How do regulatory agencies decide how strictly to regulate an industry? They sometimes use cost-benefit analysis or claim to, but more often the standards they invoke are so vague as to be meaningless. This raises the question whether the agencies use an implicit standard or instead regulate in an ad hoc fashion. We argue that agencies frequently use an approach that we call “norming.” They survey the practices of firms in a regulated industry and choose a standard somewhere within the distribution of existing practices, often no higher than the median. Such a standard burdens only the firms whose practices lag the industry. We then evaluate this approach. While a case can be made that norming is appropriate when a regulatory agency operates in an environment of extreme uncertainty, we argue that on balance norming is an unwise form of regulation. Its major attraction for agencies is that it minimizes political opposition to regulation. Norming does not serve the public interest as well as a more robust standard like cost-benefit analysis.