"Call Me Bill": Social Justice and the Administrative Jurisprudence of William Brennan, Jr.

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Virginia Tech

This study examines former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, Jr.'s opinions on the following administrative law topics: civil rights, civil liberties, human resource management, due process, and privacy. The purpose of this examination is (1) to apply Rohr's regime values framework to Brennan's case law, (2) to determine the usefulness of Brennan's regime values to discretionary decision making, and (3) to consider the effectiveness of these regime values as a pedagogical approach to ethics.

A purposive sample of 25 cases was selected for the study. Case briefing and discourse analysis were the primary research methods used. I found eight regime values in Brennan's opinions: freedom, accountability, flexibility, equity and equality, unconstitutional conditions, property, and social justice. Social justice was his dominant regime value and is the basis for all of his jurisprudence. Brennan's regime values reconcile two approaches to ethics, the low road and the high road, by emphasizing a Constitutional basis for the latter.

Brennan's values may help administrators learn how to think through the important decisions they make daily by providing both a foundation and justification for their choices. Public administrators can be taught how to use the regime values method to extract additional values.

Constitutional Law, Public Ethics, Administrative Law, Justice William Brennan, Public Administration, Administrative Discretion, Regime Values