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Willis's American Counterparts: The Legal Realists’ Defence of Administration, 55 University of Toronto Law Journal 405 (2005)

Abstract

To an American lawyer, or at least any lawyer familiar with the debates over administrative law and government in the critical years from 1920 through 1940, the voice of John Willis is instantly recognizable. He is clearly one of the gang - the legal realists who were concerned to expand the authority of administrative agencies to govern new areas of economic life; to promote their virtues as policy makers and adjudicators over those of their chief rivals, the courts; to defend them against charges of arbitrariness and absolutism; and to limit the scope of judicial review of their decisions. The voice is familiar in style as well as in substance - the slashing sharp-pointed satirical barbs aimed to puncture the inflated claims ofjudicial 'formalism' and the blunt no-nonsense plain style used to highlight the virtues of civil servants' 'functionalism.' Close your eyes and you could be listening to Thurman Arnold, Reed Powell, or Jerome Frank. Willis is just as witty and quite a bit more succinct.

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2005

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