Administrative Law Online Materials

Well-Founded Fear

This is a documentary on the initial adjudication process for asylum determinations.

It gives the students a hard look at how life and death decisions are made by overworked adjudicators without inadequate institutional support. The interviews with the judges are excellent, ranging from judges who give the applicant the benefit of the doubt to those who see their job as keeping people out. There are two additional cuts of the movie on the site which are available for free. One is a collection of the interviews with the adjudicators and one is a primer on asylum law practice.

Well-Founded Fear – Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini – Behind the Lens – POV | PBS – interview with the filmmakers

Merit System Protection Board

CBS 60 Minutes segment on the inability of the Merit System Protection Board to function because the White House has not appointed members to its board:

The Regulators

It’s an old chestnut (although I just watched it today for the first time): The Regulators documentary.

Alternative links on YouTube:

Link to download the movie:

Given the likely need to retain student interest in an online environment, there are far worse ways to spend 50 minutes of an Admin Law semester.

I use The Regulators every year in the first meeting of my Administrative Law class. In addition to the film I assign students a big stack of papers that I call “The Regulator’s Paperwork.” (This is a strategy I adapted from Nick Parrillo, though his paperwork introduction comes without a film). I have students watch the film before the first class and in the class meeting I walk quickly through this paperwork with them to help them understand the legal process that lies behind the scenes of the movie (and to reintroduce them to some basic concepts like session law versus codification and the Fed. Reg. and CFR as parallels). For instance, the paperwork I hand out includes: the Clean Air Act in session law and then in the USC, highlighting the statutory language on which the rulemaking relied; the proposed rule and then the final rule both in the Federal Register and in the CFR; a guidance document for implementing a later iteration of the regs. I have always wanted to include documents from the deadline suit that spurred the regulations in the first place, but I haven’t put in enough time to find anything.

Regulators’ Paperwork


Thanks for this.  I have my students listen to this Planet Money segment when we cover Mead.

Peanut Butter Formal Rulemaking

One resource I am using is this set of 3 podcasts about the infamous peanut butter regulations to supplement the introduction to admin law:

Part 1: The Peanut Butter Grandma Goes to Washington:

Part 2: The Peanut Butter Wars:

Part 3: The Peanut Butter Verdict:

It gives us illustrations of rulemaking, commenting, formal adjudication, even judicial review, if you add supplementary reading about the story. It’s a little bit of everything.


Cost Benefit

I use the Khan Academy video on cost-benefit analysis to show how it’s done in theory (in the context of business decisionmaking), and then a video (using only om minute 2:55 to minute 25:25) from Prof. Melissa Lutrell on OIRA review in the context of climate change decisionmaking.

Links are here:

Khan Academy –

“The Social Cost of Carbon and Its Relationship to First Steps Operationalizing the President’s Climate Action Plan –

Using Wikis

Using a Wiki to Increase Student Engagement in Administrative Law by David I. C. Thomson :: SSRN