Statutory Interpretation and the Balance of Power in the Administrative State

Cynthia R. Farina
1989 Columbia Law Review  
Administrative law is no longer simply about property rights. It is, instead, a system for allocating power. -Judge Carl McGowan 1 For those who study the interaction of courts and agencies, one of the most persistently intriguing puzzles has been to define the appropriate judicial and administrative roles in the interpretation of regulatory statutes. 2 Assume, for example, that Congress enacts legislation which establishes a system of rights and responsibilities for "employees" and creates an
more » ... es" and creates an agency to administer that system. Should the court or the agency decide whether the critical statutory term "employees" encompasses persons who would be considered independent contractors under the common law, or workers who are foremen and so, at least arguably, part of management? 3 To determine "what the law is" in the context of an actual controversy that turns on a question of statutory meaning is the quintessential judicial function. 4 At the same time, * Associate Professor of Law, Cornell Law School. For their comments and contributions, I am grateful to
doi:10.2307/1122864 fatcat:rvuf3aqn75hmdlqlfhvw3q42u4