legal history

Revisiting the Origin of the Administrative State — Not a 20th Century Invention After All

Every institution seems to have a creation myth of some kind. Many people think that the federal bureaucracy was a creation of the New Deal, which deviated from the Framers’ vision of small government.  More sophisticated people realize that the administrative state began in the late 19th century with the creation of the Interstate Commerce …


The First Federal Environmental Law Decision

Of course, it’s a bit arbitrary to pick one case as the first environmental law decision.  Many people would probably name the Scenic Hudson opinion, but my nominee would be a decision many decades earlier: Woodruff v. North Bloomfield Gravel Mining Co., 18 F. 753 (C.C.Cal. 1884).  What makes it reasonable to call this the …


Finding the Right Words (Judicially)

I recently posted about when various key environmental terms surfaced in the law review literature.  It occurred to me that it would be interested to compare with the courts, so I did a similar search of Westlaw’s database for all state and federal court opinions.  Here is how the results compare: Term Law reviews Courts …