PPL Faculty Fellow Dr. Jane Manners, Assistant Professor in the Beasley School of Law, presents her research as part of the Public Policy Lab's Colloquium Series.
Dr. Manners will present The Three Permissions: Presidential Removal and Agency Independence.
In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has significantly weakened the independence of “independent agencies,” and it appears willing to go further still in undermining those parts of the government intended by Congress to operate outside of the president’s direct authority. Independent agencies regulate important aspects of our lives, from issuing our money to delivering the mail. While the president nominates the leaders of these agencies, he generally can only remove them for “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office (INM),” words that historically have been narrowly interpreted to cover ineptitude or objectively bad behavior, like taking a bribe or deliberately neglecting a job’s basic responsibilities. In this talk, Dr. Manners will examine the history of INM to show that legislators have long used these words to strike a balance between independence and oversight, giving expert administrators the authority to do their jobs without political interference while allowing removal in situations where the officer’s unacceptable performance threatens to impair the agency’s work. In contrast to the Court’s assertion that the unconstitutionality of such limits on the president’s ability to remove agency officers is clear from “history and precedent,” Dr. Manners will show the rich tradition behind agency independence.