By definition, administrative agencies are bodies of government vested with authority to implement and direct legislative acts. In United States, these agencies are establishments under the federal constitution, state legislature, United States congress, and local law bodies. Their main aim being to addresses social problems, and management of crisis.
How are administrative agencies’ decisions made and challenged?
In the recent past, administrative agencies have faced a lot of criticism. Many of these people argue that administrative agencies are acting like a fourth arm of government having powers greater than the ones of judiciary, legislature and executive. The decision of administrative agencies are made in public with the participation of civilians in the decision making process. In challenging the decision of these agencies, a case is filed with the administrative law judge where a trial based on facts will be delivered. Oaths would be administered to the witnesses and verdict given after all the evidence has been reviewed.
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Purpose of administrative law judge for an administrative agency
Administrative law judges in United States serves as presiding officers in an administrative trial involving, a party or person affected by a decision made by a government agency, and the agency itself (Administrative Law and Procedure). They are literally speaking the first Trier using facts, and take in to account questionable evidence in order to make factual rulings. They administer affirmations and oaths, regulate the course of hearing, and take depositions, issue subpoenas and rule on the evidence presented. Their decisions can be appealed to the federal agency they hear cases and later to a court of law.
What are the processes in challenging a denial of Social Security benefits?
Social security benefits in most of the cases are denied (Storm law firm). Thee biggest question is why should this be the case? Is it not easier to just grant the rights before a legal proceeding is carried out? The process of challenging the denial of these e rights involves four steps. Firstly, the aggrieved party files for reconsideration within 60 days of the denial. If the reconsideration is denied, then a request for hearing is placed with an administrative law judge. The judge would help the complainant to update the medical records. “If the rights are denied further then”, this is followed by an appeal for hearing. If the Appeal is not ruled in ones favor, then finally there is filling of a suit in the federal court (Storm law firm, 2011).
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In my view, administrative law judges play a significant role in making sure that courts are not overloaded with unnecessary baggage of cases that could have other wise been adjudicated in administrative agencies. In challenging denial of social security benefits, the administrative law judges are of immense help. Although, most of the time the complainant is not required to appear during the proceeding of the case the judges use facts to rule and social benefits can be granted if the judge finds that they were denied unjustly.
Administrative law judges have been effective in regulating the powers of administrative agencies. If a case is resolved in a way that creates disputes, administrative law judges are always there to step in and rule on facts. This acts as a check to the powers of the administrative agencies. A great percentage of denial of social security needs has been occurring in the recent past, these administrative law judges will act as remedies to these injustices. If they do not solve the problems, recommendation for Appeal can always be filed. Administrative agencies will not always be seen as fair in some quarters, but when administrative law judges preside, some fairness is at least expected.
What factors must be present to obtain judicial review of an administrative agency action or decision?
Several factors re considered before granting judicial review of an administrative agency decision to an aggrieved party or person. Firstly, the person bringing the appeal to have the decision reviewed has to have a legal right to do so. Moreover, the interest that the complainant seeks to protect should be within the interests argued to be with the protected zone. The timing of action should be correct to obtain a judicial review. This mean the plaintiff has to go through several avenues of trying to solve the dispute before bringing the issue to the judicial review. The avenues within the agency must be exhausted before a judicial review is filed!
Are courts limited in review of agency action?
Yes, the law has given agencies much freedom of action in order to do their work. They have to exercise diligence though making sure that the people’s rights are safeguarded. A court may at times change or dismiss an agencies decision that is considered utterly wrong, but a lot of considerations are taken into account. Most are the times that the courts are not allowed to second-guess discretion of agencies vested up them by the statute. The courts can only check whether the agencies went beyond their powers or whether procedures were followed before arriving at a conclusion (Shane et al). Therefore, unless the agency abused its discretion powers the courts abide by their ruling even if small mistakes were made some of which can not change the decision taken even if considered.
Standard/scope of Supreme Court review of FCC vs. Fox Television Stations.
The case had been ruled by a commission that prohibited of broadcasting of any indecent material and language. The issue was an extension of the ban had been carried to run from 6 Am to 12 midnight. The commission had went against its decision and allowed some stations to air some indecent material as from 10 pm (Biskupic). The Supreme Court declined to rule on the case and referred it back to the lower courts. There were a remand and a second circuit of the courts of appeal and was able to overrule the decision of the FCC. Since then, the FCC has re-appealed for the case to be heard by the Supreme Court.
What can a court review regarding the agency action?
This case is still in progress. The courts will review whether the federal communications commission scheme to regulate speech was vague according to the constitution. The Supreme Court will try to review whether the rights of the fox television stations lay within the protected right zone. Moreover, the decision by the second circuit will be scrutinized to see if it followed the rule of law, and whether it was constitutional.
Use of concept of ALJs in the two cases
By the fact that, the Supreme Court had declined to rule on the case of FCC vs. Fox televisions stations shows that the administrative law judges had a role to play and their verdicts were respected by the court. The fact that FCC decision was overturned by the second circuit court of appeal does not mean that the administrative law judges were unable to adjudicate over the matter. It is only that a lot of interest was vested in it and had been disputed.
In the case, of Yellow Freight Sys. Vs. Martin, the administrative law judge had found that, some sections of the constitution were violated in discharging Martin form his duty. The firm had wanted him to drive a truck while sick. The ALJs were effectively utilized. This case went thorough several appeals with yellow freight trying to have the decision to charge it dropped.
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