Read Full Article (PDF)





The Trump administration has been conducting a scorched- earth campaign to reverse the regulatory handiwork of the Obama administration. This spectacular change in direction did not occur because federal agencies suddenly gained new information and expertise on the day of President Trump’s inauguration. Instead, the driving motivation has been political and ideological—e.g., to put it mildly, the current administration strikes a different balance between business and environmental/health concerns than its predecessor. In one obvious sense, this change in administrative direction is nothing new—the Obama administration reversed Bush administration policies, and the Bush administration reversed Clinton administration policies, etc. That said, the scope and intensity of the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back the Obama years—combined with what might reasonably be called a general assault by political forces on expert administration—provides a natural occasion to reflect on how administrative law ensures the legality and rationality of agency policy reversals with political motivations.

Richard W. Murphy*

*AT&T Professor of Law, Texas Tech University School of Law. Many thanks to Professors Sidney Shapiro, Louis Virelli, Bryan Camp, and Alex Pearl for their help with this Article.