Volume 49, Number 3
Summer 1997 - Abstracts

Interest Groups, Judicial Review, and the Origins of Broadcast Regulation
- Charles R. Shipan

This article examines how judicial review is used in regulatory legislation to further political goals. Shipan notes that judicial review cannot be treated as being �on� or �off� but instead should be treated as "shades" of review, "shades" that are influenced by various political actors and interest groups. The author advances four claims in this article. First, judicial review procedures and standards are "political variables". Second, there are various levels of the policy process that are susceptible to influence by interest groups, groups who are well aware of the role they play in shaping the future of policy outcomes. Third, because of the evolving nature of the political structure, political actors and interest groups have an incentive in constraining future actions of an agency in order "to ensure fidelity to their goals." Last, Shipan looks at the sources of information, or the tools, used by such actors in assessing different judicial review provisions.

Shipan next elaborates on the different approaches traditionally applied by interest groups when faced with uncertainty and difficult policy decisions. These approaches vary from experiential to institutional, and are effective in determining policy outcome. The author notes that while courts are not "completely controllable, [they] are constrainable" when interest groups get involved.

The author then applies this theory in analyzing the history and evolution of broadcast regulation and the Communications Act of 1934. Shipan examines the nature of the Act and specific debates over judicial review procedures that arose as a result of the merger of two separate commissions under "one regulatory roof". In doing so, the author discusses the battle that existed over radio regulation in the 1920s and 1930s and the various roles played by interest groups and political actors in determining the provisions and standards of judicial review.

In conclusion, Shipan proposes that when looked at as a whole, the actions of political and interest groups can lead to a "more political understanding of judicial review."

Abstract by Linda Cerra

For full copies of articles, please contact the subscriptions department of the American Bar Association. Articles are also available electronically on Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw.