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10.2: Administrative Law

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    Administrative law is also referred to as regulatory and public law. It is the law that is related to administrative agencies. Administrative agencies are established by statutes and governed by rules, regulations and orders, court decisions, judicial orders, and decisions.

    Agencies are created by federal or state governments to carry out certain goals or purposes. Federal agencies are created by an act of Congress. Congress writes out a law called an organic statute that lays out the purpose and structure of the agency. The agency is charged with carrying out that purpose, as described by Congress. Organic statutes are utilized to create administrative agencies, as well as to define their responsibilities and authority.

    fig 10.1.1.jpg
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Both federal and state legislators create agencies to fulfill a specific purpose, usually related to protecting the public from a potential threat. (Credit: kbhall17/ pixabay/ License: CC0)


    Administrative agencies have been around almost since the founding of the United States. However, industrialization had a big impact on the development of administrative laws. As people moved from farms and rural areas to cities to find work and raise families, the economy changed. It became more complex. As a result of this economic change, the government saw a need to expand its regulation to protect and support the public. In the 20th century, the number of agencies expanded very quickly with the addition of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate food and medication, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to regulate trade, and the Federal Reserve System (FRS) to regulate banks. These are just a few of the agencies created to regulate industries. Ultimately, this expansion occurred in response to the complexity of the economy.

    fig 10.1.2.jpg
    Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\): Industrialization increased the number of administrative agencies in the United States. (Credit: Chevanon Photography/ pexels/ License: CC0)

    Everyday Impact

    Administrative law impacts the public on a daily basis. Administrative law is basically the delegated power granted to administrative agencies to carry out specific functions. Government agencies endeavor to protect the rights of citizens, corporations, and any other entity through administrative laws. Administrative agencies were developed to protect consumers and the community. As a result, they are present in all aspects of life, including medicine, food, environment, and trade.

    One well-known federal agency is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA was created to protect the public’s health. The agency’s responsibilities are very broad. The agency fulfills its role by ensuring the safety and effectiveness of drugs consumed by people and animals, biological products, medical devices, food, and cosmetics. Specifically, the FDA regulates the things that the public consumes, including supplements, infant formula, bottled water, food additives, eggs, some meat, and other food products. The FDA also regulates biological items and medical devices, including vaccines, cellular therapy products, surgical implants, and dental devices. This federal agency began in 1906 with the passing of the Pure Food and Drugs Act.

    fig 10.1.3.jpg
    Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\): The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the safety and effectiveness of medication. (Credit: Rawpixel/ pexels/ License: CC0)

    EpiPens are automatic injection devices that deliver lifesaving medication that can save an individual in the event of exposure to an allergen, like a bee sting or peanuts. The United States faced a shortage of EpiPens, so in 2018, the FDA took action to address this issue. The FDA approved the extension of EpiPen expiration dates for four months on specific lots of the EpiPen. This extension impacted both the public and the organization that produces EpiPens. In the same year, the FDA approved the first generic EpiPen. The new generic version will be produced by a pharmaceutical company that has not previously produced the EpiPen. These two actions impact consumers by increasing the supply of lifesaving EpiPens.

    Another well-known agency is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC was formed in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Trade Commission Act into law. The goal of the agency is to protect the consumer, encourage business competition, and further the interests of consumers by encouraging innovation. The FTC works within the United States as well as internationally to protect consumers and encourage competition. The agency fulfills this role by developing policies, partnering with law enforcement to ensure consumer protection, and helping to ensure that markets are open and free. For instance, management and enforcement of the Do Not Call List is part of the FTC’s consumer protection goals.

    The FTC protects consumers from unfair or misleading practices. Phone scams are a common issue. Scammers go to great lengths to trick the public into donating to false charities, providing personal information, or giving access to financial information. The FTC is aware of these issues and has put rules in place to punish scammers and educate the public. The FTC created a phone scammer reporting process to help collect information about scammers so that they can be prosecuted. The agency also collects information about scammers and creates educational materials for the public. These materials are designed to help consumers identify possible phone scammers, avoid their tactics, and report their activities.

    A complete list of U.S. government agencies can be found at

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