The Folly in Finality: The Constitutionality of ALJ Final Decision-Making in North Carolina

BY Asher P. Spiller

This Recent Development explores whether North Carolina’s Regulatory Reform Act’s grant of final decision making authority to state Administrative Law Judges violates the state’s separation of powers doctrine through two different inquiries: First, does Administrative Law Judge finality unconstitutionally encroach on the power of the judiciary? Second, does Administrative Law Judge finality unconstitutionally undermine executive branch authority? This Recent Development first argues that Administrative Law Judge finality is not an unconstitutional encroachment on the judiciary because Administrative Law Judge finality falls within the ambit of what is “reasonably necessary” to fulfill the Office of Administrative Hearing’s purpose (as it has been statutorily re-defined by the legislature), and because the Regulatory Reform Act stops short of transforming the Office of Administrative Hearings into a de facto court of law. However, this Recent Development further argues that Administrative Law Judge finality is an unconstitutional encroachment on North Carolina’s executive branch because Administrative Law Judge finality vests regulatory decision-making power in an appointee of the North Carolina judiciary, supplanting the regulatory obligations of the Governor and executive agencies.

DOWNLOAD PDF | 90 N.C. L. Rev.2162 (2012)