The Prehistory of ACUS, Part 9: Congress Debates a Permanent ACUS

This post is the last in a nine-part series about the historical antecedents of ACUS.

In 1963, with the support of the Kennedy Administration, Senator Edward Long of Missouri introduced a bill, S. 1664, to “provide for continuous improvement of the administrative procedure of federal agencies by creating an Administrative Conference of the United States.”

Over three days in June 1963, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure held hearings on the establishment of a permanent agency. “This new body would be called the Administrative Conference of the United States,” Senator Long began the hearings. “Its purpose would be to provide a means for continuing assault on the problems of assuring fairness, obtaining greater uniformity of procedure, and avoiding undue delay and expense.”

Lyndon Johnson (Library of Congress/UPI).

The full hearing report includes statements from those connected with previous episodes—individuals like Herbert Brownell, Walter Gellhorn, and E. Barrett Prettyman. Other submissions came from agency heads, former agency officials, law professors, the ABA, and Chief Justice Earl Warren.

“I am pleased to report that the [Judicial] Conference and I personally endorse heartily the purpose of S. 1664,” Warren wrote Long. “It is our considered opinion that the need for an Administrative Conference is much the same as that which called for the establishment of the Judicial Conference, and we believe that it could accomplish for the administrative agencies what ours is accomplishing for the Federal judiciary.”

“That comes as very, very, exciting news to us to have the Chief Justice express to you the interest which he has already expressed to us from time to time,” Judge Prettyman testified to the Subcommittee.  

Over the rest of the summer of 1963 and through 1964, the bill wended its way through Congress. On August 30, 1964, President Johnson signed the Administrative Conference Act into law, and today’s ACUS came to be.

Read the entire series from the start here. Next week: ACUS 71st Plenary Session.