Alexander Hamilton and Administrative Law: How America’s First Great Public Administrator Informs and Challenges Our Understanding of Contemporary Administrative Law
Alexander Hamilton’s recognition and reputation have soared since the premiere of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about him in 2015. For lawyers, Hamilton’s work on the Federalist Papers and service as the nation’s first Treasury Secretary likely stand out more than other aspects of his extraordinary life. Politics and economics were fundamental concerns addressed by the Framers in a number of ways, including what we now refer to as administrative law—the laws and procedures that guide government departments (or, as we say today, agencies). Indeed, “Hamilton” reminds us that questions of administration and administrative law have been with us since the first days of the Republic. Inspired by the musical, this Article examines three related aspects of Hamilton and administrative law. First, while the typical administrative law course is preoccupied with the last century and is anchored in the New Deal, Hamilton’s tenure as Treasury Secretary shows that (administrative) law guided the Treasury Department’s operations and, moreover, that Hamilton took the law into account when leading the Department. Second, in law school, administrative law focuses on legal constraints on the agency rather than internal aspects of administration. Hamilton’s career, which fused contemporary notions of public administration and administrative law, challenges the separation of these two disciplines. Third, separation of powers is the foundation of the administrative law course. As the Article discusses, the Supreme Court considered Hamilton’s views on this subject, specifically in the context of the President’s removal authority, when deciding Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Protection Final Bureau in 2020. In sum, Hamilton and “Hamilton” have much to say about contemporary administrative law.
Rodger D. Citron, Alexander Hamilton and Administrative Law: How America’s First Great Public Administrator Informs and Challenges Our Understanding of Contemporary Administrative Law, 71 CLEV. ST. L. REV. 719 (2023).
Cleveland State Law Review
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