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TriCON Seminar with Darryl K. Brown

TriCON Seminar with Darryl K. Brown (O.M. Vicars Professor of Law, University of Virginia).

Thursday 17 April 1pm in Room 11, House 39, New Sqaure, Trinity College Dublin.

The event will be Chaired by Liz Heffernan, Trinity College Dublin, and Respondent David Kenny, Trinity College Dublin.

As do some other western democracies, the United States currently shows signs of democratic retrogression, or degradation of institutions and norms that sustain constitutional democratic governance and the rule of law. One particular site of concern is criminal law administration. Legal scholars and political scientists recognize that civil service bureaucracies, or the administrative institutional structure of modern governments, play an important role in sustaining the rule of law and limiting abuse by political officials of state power for clientelist, patronage-oriented, or partisan-political ends. But the United States has a thinner administrative state than European states—particularly so for its prosecution agencies. Moreover, the U.S. administrative state has a weaker constitutional basis than elsewhere. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution directly references or protects the Weberian administrative bureaucracy. To the contrary, three critical doctrines—executive power, victim (non)standing, and pardon power—insulate prosecution authority from statutory regulation or judicial oversight. In consequence, only the bureaucratic organization and political conventions insulate prosecution offices from direct control of political officials. Yet support for that bureaucratic structure is eroding among both political actors in the Republican Party and among federal courts increasingly inclined toward a constitutional “unitary executive” theory.