Landis, James M. (1899–1964)

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LANDIS, JAMES M. (1899–1964)

James McCauley Landis was a gifted lawyer, professor and dean at Harvard Law School, and writer, whose outstanding contribution to American law was his theoretical analysis and practical championing of regulatory commissions. He was a student of felix frankfurter and coauthored The Business of the Supreme Court (1928) with him. Landis chaired both the Securities and Exchange Commission (1934–1937) and the Civil Aeronautics Board (1946–1947), served on the Federal Trade Commission (1933–1934), and wrote The Administrative Process (1938), a sympathetic analysis of regulatory commissions. The book discussed the limits on agencies imposed by Congress and the checks on them afforded by judicial review, and Landis downplayed the likelihood of administrative abuses of power, arguing that the true danger lay in lethargic enforcement of congressional policy. The efficiency with which these commissions could focus on economic problems by merging executive, legislative, and judicial powers impressed Landis, who saw administrative action as a practical means to achieve realistic ends.

David Gordon


Ritchie, Donald A. 1980 James M. Landis, Dean of the Regulators. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.