Location: The Heritage Foundation's
The administrative state in America
today co-exists uneasily and often incoherently with the principles
of our Constitution. While the dubious constitutional status
of administrative agencies and the manner in which these agencies
make policy has been acknowledged by some on the right and the
left, the origins of the administrative state are not well
understood. Built primarily to implement the programs of the
New Deal, the roots of the administrative state actually go much
deeper, into the Progressive Era. It was Progressives who
launched the first open, full-scale assault on the ideas that
inform our Constitution. Part of that assault, made primarily
by the likes of Woodrow Wilson and Frank Goodnow, looked to replace
the separation of powers and government by consent of the people
with a system that centralized national power in the hands of
unelected experts. To understand the administrative state
today thus requires understanding the impact of Progressivism on
constitutional government in America.
Dr. Ronald J.
Pestritto is Associate Professor of Political Science at Hillsdale
College and holds the Charles and Lucia Shipley Chair in the
American Constitution. He is also a Senior Fellow of the
Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political
Philosophy. He has published six books, including the
recently released Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern
More About the Speakers
Ronald J. Pestritto, Ph.D.
Charles and Lucia Shipley Chair in the American
Constitution, Hillsdale College
Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.
Vice President, American Studies and Director, B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics