Author Archives: Jennifer Nou

Bureaucratic Power, by Jennifer Nou

by Jennifer Nou — Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019@Jennifer_Nou

The administrative state exercises power — too much power in the view of many. But what kind of power and in what forms? Rachel Potter’s new book, Bending the Rules, provides an occasion to reflect on these questions. The portrait she presents is that of strategic bureaucrats. These bureaucrats, civil servants and appointees alike, know […]

Administering Democracy: Policing a Partisan Census

by Jennifer Nou — Monday, Apr. 22, 2019@Jennifer_Nou

The Census Case, argued tomorrow, could influence elections for the next decade. The decennial count forms the basis for the apportionment of congressional districts and state redistricting efforts. Suffice to say that a lot of hand-wringing goes into counting people. No wonder that litigation was swift to follow the Secretary of Commerce’s decision last March […]

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The SEC’s Improper Subdelegation (Statutory, not Constitutional)

by Jennifer Nou — Wednesday, Apr. 11, 2018@Jennifer_Nou

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), like any busy group of officials, can’t do everything itself. It has to delegate tasks. Not only is delegation inevitable, it is often wise. Delegating to others can promote agency expertise; it can preserve Commission resources for higher priorities. At the same time, delegation has its pathologies. It can […]

Census Smoke Signals

by Jennifer Nou — Thursday, Mar. 29, 2018@Jennifer_Nou

The decennial Census is a high-stakes feat. It informs government spending, business planning, and congressional apportionment. No wonder the Census Bureau takes such great pains with each question. After all, when you ask only ten questions or so, you’ve got to make them count (pun intended). You can almost hear the bureaucratic hand-wringing in the […]

Bureaucratic Exit and Loyalty under Trump

by Jennifer Nou — Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018@Jennifer_Nou

Donald Trump loves drama. His tweets more often provoke feuds than illuminate policies. To many of its observers, the Trump Presidency is also a nail-biter of a different sort: will the separation-of-powers survive him? Or is a constitutional “crisis” (whatever that means) afoot? All this hand-wringing occurs amidst a multi-front assault on the administrative state. […]

The SEC’s Subdelegated Appointments Power

by Jennifer Nou — Friday, Dec. 1, 2017@Jennifer_Nou

Yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hedged its bets: it issued an order ratifying the prior appointments of its administrative law judges (ALJs). The order also called for fresh proceedings in pending actions before these newly-blessed ALJs. The SEC did all of this to “put to rest” the argument — now pursued by the […]

The CBO-CBA Analogy, or What Wonks Could Learn from Each Other

by Jennifer Nou — Sunday, Mar. 19, 2017@Jennifer_Nou

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released its long-awaited report on the likely budgetary effects of the American Health Care Act. The legislative counterpart to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, CBO estimates how federal spending and revenues would change as a result of proposed legislative bills. The resulting Republican talking points were […]

Taming the Shallow State, by Jennifer Nou

by Jennifer Nou — Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017@Jennifer_Nou

The gloves have now come off in the battle between President Trump and an increasingly alarmed federal bureaucracy. EPA employees are in the streets. The National Park Service is sending out insubordinate tweets. Intelligence agencies are not just leaking, they’re gushing. Bureaucratic resistance is, of course, not new. But what does seem unprecedented is the […]

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Bureaucratic Resistance from Below, by Jennifer Nou

by Jennifer Nou — Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016@Jennifer_Nou

Donald Trump is the President-Elect with both houses of Congress at his disposal. He promises judicial nominations to help bring the courts under his sway. He invokes authoritarian rulers as paragons of leadership. Trump’s instinctive reaction to dissent is not to listen, but to destroy. And what hopes lie in the moderating norms of the […]

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