More Than Half a Loaf: Administrative Law in the 1930s


Mark Tushnet


This Lecture examines developments in administrative law in the 1930s. Focusing on three major cases during that decade, this Lecture describes how far administrative law adapted to the vision articulated by Progressive scholars, most notably Felix Frankfurter and James Landis. In each case, Progressives believed that the Court had substantially eroded the accomplishments of administrative law; but in each, Progressives were mistaken. And whereas the Progressives failed to acknowledge how much they had gained from the Supreme Court during the 1930s, by the end of that decade, their opponents better understood what had occurred and mobilized political support to retrench. Only a presidential veto stood in the way of a substantial revision of administrative law. That veto, though, allowed modern administrative law to adapt to the changing place of administrative agencies in the modern administrative state.

Streaming Media


Mark Tushnet, Administrative Law in the 1930s: The Supreme Court’s Accommodation of Progressive Legal Theory, 60 Duke Law Journal 1565-1637 (2011) Available at:

Lecture Date

March 2, 2010