Constitution 101: The Meaning and History of the Constitution

"The Administrative State Today"


Sometimes referred to as the fourth branch of government, the bureaucracies which constitute the administrative state exercise legislative, executive, and judicial powers—a practice which Publius describes in Federalist 47 as “the very definition of tyranny.” Since its inception, the administrative state has undergone many changes and reforms, which have had profound effects on the way American national policy is made and implemented by Congress and the president. Originally a barrier to the implementation of the Progressive agenda, the judiciary today largely defers to the bureaucracy. These developments have produced a system which continues to erode America’s constitutional foundations.


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Discussion Questions

  1. What are some of the major developments that have led to the administrative state we know today?
  2. Why did Franklin Roosevelt insist on creating the Executive Office of the President?
  3. How have Congress and the definition of legislation changed over the last century?


Q & A Session

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Kevin Portteus is associate professor of politics at Hillsdale College, where he has taught since 2008. Dr. Portteus is faculty advisor for the Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program, and teaches courses in American political thought and American political institutions.

A visiting graduate faculty member in the American History and Government program at Ashland University, Dr. Portteus formerly taught at Belmont Abbey College and Mountain View College, in Dallas. Having published online through the Washington Times, Human Events, and, his book, Executive Details: Public Administration and American Constitutionalism, is under review for publication. He received his B.A., summa cum laude, from Ashland University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in politics from the University of Dallas.