Ensuring Democratic Accountability in the Administrative State

February 9, 2023, 9:00 a.m. EST - 5:00 p.m. EST

The Mayflower Hotel, Autograph Collection, 1127 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

This event is co-hosted by Pacific Legal Foundation and The Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy


Pacific Legal Foundation’s Center for the Separation of Powers and Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy will be hosting a symposium on “Ensuring Democratic Accountability in the Administrative State,” on February 9, 2023, in Washington, DC. 

The Constitution’s Framers understood that the president cannot run the executive branch alone and would need a staff to manage it. Yet they carefully crafted several constitutional provisions to ensure accountability to the people, including the Appointments Clause, which requires all principal or superior officers to be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. All inferior officers must be appointed in the same manner unless Congress, by law, vests the appointment in the president alone, in courts, or in department heads. Moreover, the Supreme Court has held that only officers appointed in this manner may exercise significant authority under the laws of the United States. This significant authority includes the task of filling gaps left by Congress in the laws an agency is charged with administering. Congress’ tendency in recent decades to enact laws with broad mandates and few regulatory details has left enormous discretionary gaps for agencies to fill. Such broad congressional delegations have led to an explosion of agency regulations that dwarf the number of statutes passed by Congress each year. That makes democratic accountability of the regulatory decision-makers even more important.