Course Offered at American University: PUAD 626 Legal Issues in Public Administration

MPA Goals/Objectives

We achieve our mission by ensuring each Key Executive Leadership MPA graduate:

  1. Applies substantive public administration principles, values and skills to lead organizations and implement public policy effectively and efficiently.
  2. Demonstrates increased leadership capacity to facilitate transformation from good managers to extraordinary leaders.
  3. Exhibits the capacity to analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make decisions that enhance organizational and policy effectiveness.

Key MPA Vision

Key is the global public sector leadership program of choice because it challenges good managers to become extraordinary leaders who build an environment for organized success.

Key MPA Values

The following are the extraordinary leader core values associated with leading change, leading people, achieving results, developing business acumen, and building coalitions:

  1. Exhibit a passion for improving public service
  2. Lead authentically
  3. Learn and work collaboratively
  4. Become a force for personal and organizational change
  5. Act with integrity
  6. Model the behavior sought
  7. Empower others to action

Purpose: The course analyzes the legal platform for contemporary public management in the United States. It covers the principles and underlying values of federal constitutional and administrative law that govern public administrators’ decision-making, treatment of subordinates and customers, implementation, and other actions. It shows how and why legal requirements must be integrated into general administrative processes, practices, systems, management, and leadership. It provides public administrators with the non-technical constitutional competence welcomed by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and required by the federal courts. This includes the ability to understand and apply judicial decisions to day-to-day public administrative operations. Considerable attention is devoted to maximizing public administrative objectives while protecting and promoting individual constitutional rights and other democratic-constitutional public values.


Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the roles of the courts and constitutional values in contemporary public administration.
  2. Understand the structure of constitutional rights.
  3. Understand the origins of administrative law and its contemporary relevance to administrative practice.
  4. Understand how to apply constitutional and administrative law to public administrative practice.




Required Books:

  1. D. Rosenbloom, Rosemary O’Leary, and Joshua Chanin, Public Administration and Law, third ed. (Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2010). ISBN 978-1-4398-0398-1.


  1. D. Rosenbloom, Administrative Law for Public Managers, second edition (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2015). ISBN 13: 978-0-8133-4881.


Additional Sources:

Kenneth Warren, Administrative Law in the Political System (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2011). ISBN 0813344565; 9780813344560.

Jerome Barron and C. Thomas Dienes, Constitutional Law in a Nutshell, 9th ed. (St. Paul, MN: West Academic, 2017). ISBN-13: 9781634596237.



Excerpts of the legal cases assigned on the course syllabus are on Blackboard. These should be treated as an electronic casebook for the course. The full text of all but a few of the cases discussed in the course can be accessed at: or by entering the case title in a search engine and selecting Justia or SCOTUS. Additional cases may be assigned as the course progresses.




  1. October 13: Getting Oriented, Not Sued
  2. A) Overview of how constitutional law and the federal courts became central to the practice of public management at all levels of government in the U.S.
  3. B) The uneasy fit between public administration and U.S. constitutional law
  4. C) At your own risk! Public managers’ liability for constitutional torts
  5. D) Judicial structure and process



  1. Overview material by Rosenbloom and Rosenbloom and Rene (Blackboard)

Public Administrative Theory and the Separation of Powers

Reflections on Public Administrative Theory and the Separation of Powers

Shrinking Constitutional Tort Accountability

  1. Public Administration and Law, 3/e, chapters 1, 7, 8, 9
  2. Cases (Blackboard)

Liability/Qualified Immunity:

Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982)

Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730 (2002)

Ziglar v. Abbasi, No. 15-1358 (June 19, 2017)

Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223 (2009)

Pembaur v. City of Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469 (1986)

City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378 (1989)

Correctional Services Corp. v. Malesko, 534 U.S. 61 (2001)

Minneci v. Pollard, 565 U.S. 118 (2012)

Filarsky v. Delia, 566 U.S.377 (2012)

Harley v. Schuylkill County, 476 F. Supp. 191 (1979)


Judicial Process:

Wyatt v. Stickney, 325 F. Supp. 781 (1971)

Missouri v. Jenkins, 515 U.S. 70 (1995)

Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)

National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, 134 S.Ct. 2550 (2014)




Part II: Constitutional Rights


  1. October 14: The Constitutionalization of Public Administration I: Procedural Due Process, Substantive Rights, and “State Action”
  2. A) The New Property
  3. B) Unconstitutional Conditions
  4. C) State Action



  1. Public Administration and Law, 3/e, chapters 4, 6
  2. Administrative Law for Public Managers, 2/e, pp. 43-58 (this is an overview of individual rights in the context of public administration; we will go into more detail in this and the next class)
  3. D. Rosenbloom and S. Piotrowski, “Outsourcing the Constitution and Administrative Law Norms,” American Review of Public Administration, 35 (June 2005):103-121 (Blackboard)
  4. Cases (Blackboard)

New Property/Procedural Due Process/”Takings”:

Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 (1970)

Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976)

Cleveland Bd. of Ed. v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532 (1985)

Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352 (1983)

Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005)


Unconstitutional Conditions/Substantive Rights:

  1. Speech

Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347 (1976)

Rankin v. McPherson, 483 U.S. 378 (1987)

San Diego v. Roe, 543 U.S. 77 (2004)

Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006)

Lane v. Franks, 134 S.Ct. 2369 (2014)

Bd. Of County Commissioners v. Umbehr, 518 U.S. 668 (1996)

Reed v. Town of Gilbert, 135 S.Ct. 2218 (2015)

Thomas and Windy City Hemp Development Bd. v. Chicago Park District, 534 U.S. 316 (2002)

Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, 135 S.Ct. 2239 (2015)

Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International, 133 S.Ct. 2321 (2013)


  1. Liberty (substantive due process)

Cleveland Bd. of Ed. v. LaFleur, 414 U.S. 632 (1974)


  1. Religion

Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963)

Goldman v. Weinberger, 475 U.S. 503 (1986)

Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993)

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, 134 S.Ct. 2751 (2014)

Town of Greece v. Galloway, 134 S.Ct. 1811 (2014)

Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, No. 15-577 (June 22, 2017)


State Action:

DeShaney v. Winnebago DSS, 489 U.S. 189 (1989)

West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42 (1988)

Lebron v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation, 513 U.S. 374 (1995)

Brentwood Academy v. Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, 531 U.S. 288 (2001)




  1. October 15: The Constitutionalization of Public Administration II: Equal Protection and Fourth Amendment Privacy
  2. A) Contemporary equal protection doctrine
  3. B) Street-level administration and the Fourth Amendment



  1. Public Administration and Law, 3/e, chapter 5
  2. Cases (Blackboard)

Equal Protection:

Hawkins v. Town of Shaw, 437 F.2d 1286 (1971)

Adarand Constructors v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200 (1995)

Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003)

Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244 (2003)

Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, 134 S.Ct. 1623 (2014)

Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190 (1976)

U.S. v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996)

Zobel v. Williams, 457 U.S. 55 (1982)

Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618 (1969)


Fourth Amendment:

Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648 (1979)

New Jersey v. TLO, 469 U.S. 325 (1985)

Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646 (1995)

Atwater v. City of Lago Vista, 532 U.S. 318 (2001)

Heien v. North Carolina, 135 S.Ct. 530 (2014)

NASA v. Nelson, 562 U.S.134 (2011)

City of Ontario v. Quon, 560 U.S.746 (2010)




Part III: Federalism, the Separation of Powers, Administrative Law


  1. November 3: The Constitutional Scheme: “Clumsy, Inefficient, Even Unworkable” & Introduction to Administrative Law
  2. A) Constitutional federalism
  3. B) The separation of powers
  4. C) Overview of administrative law



  1. Public Administration and Law, 3/e, chapter 2
  2. Rosenbloom, Reevaluating Executive Centered Public Administration (Blackboard)
  3. Rosenbloom, Federal Law Against Age and Disability Discrimination Meets the Dignity of the States: The Supreme Court, States’ Sovereign Immunity, and Judicial Review (Blackboard)
  4. Administrative Law for Public Managers, 2/e, chaps. 1, 2 (pages 19-32, 35-43)
  5. Cases (Blackboard)


U.S. v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995)

U.S. v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598 (2000)

Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. Army Corps of Engineers, 531 U.S. 159 (2001)

Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1 (2005)

National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. 519 (2012)

Federal Maritime Commission v. South Carolina State Ports Authority, 535 U.S. 743 (2002)

Printz v. U.S., 521 U.S. 898 (1997)

C & A Carbone, Inc. v. Town of Clarkstown, 511 U.S. 383 (1994)


Separation of Powers:

Local 2677, The American Federation of Government Employees v. Phillips, 358 F. Supp. 60 (1973)

Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654 (1988)

National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, 134 S.Ct. 2550 (2014) (assigned earlier [October 3], review)

Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association, 135 S.Ct. 1199 (2015)

Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983)




  1. November 4: Federal Administrative Law
  2. A) The origins and purposes of federal administrative law
  3. B) Participation, representation, transparency, and fairness
  4. C) Legislative participation, oversight, and review
  5. D) Judicial Review of administrative action



  1. Administrative Law for Public Managers, 2/e, chaps. 3-5; pp. 168-184; chap. 7
  2. Rosenbloom, Whose Bureaucracy Is This, Anyway? Congress’ 1946 Answer (Blackboard)
  3. Rosenbloom, A Brief History of National Administrative Law and Regulation in the United States (Blackboard)
  4. Cases (Blackboard)

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. Natural Resources Defense

Council, 435 US 519 (1978)

Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, 467 US 837 (1984)

Auer v. Robbins, 519 U.S. 452 (1997)

City of Arlington, Texas v. FCC, 569 U.S. 290 (2013)

FCC v. Fox Television Stations, 556 U.S. 502 (2009)

Heckler v. Chaney, 470 US 821 (1985)

Schweiker v. Hansen, 450 U.S. 785 (1981)

National Archives and Records Administration v. Favish, 541 U.S. 157 (2004)



  1. November 5: Spillovers, Review, Final Exam

This session is devoted to covering material on the syllabus not reached in class, review of material needing further consideration, and an in class, open book final examination.