Constitutional Coup: Privatization’s Threat to the American Republic

Constitutional Coup: Privatization’s Threat to the American Republic

Jon Michaels

3.26.2018

Jon Michaels

Jon Michaels is a Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law with degrees from Williams College, Oxford University, and Yale Law School. His scholarly and teaching interests include constitutional law, administrative law, national security law, the separation of powers, presidential power, regulation, bureaucracy, and privatization. 

Jon Michaels is a Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law with degrees from Williams College, Oxford University, and Yale Law School. His scholarly and teaching interests include constitutional law, administrative law, national security law, the separation of powers, presidential power, regulation, bureaucracy, and privatization. 

Americans have a love-hate relationship with government. Rejecting bureaucracy—but not the goods and services the welfare state provides—Americans have demanded that government be made to run like a business. Hence today’s privatization revolution.

But as Michaels shows in his book, “Constitutional Coup: Privatization’s Threat to the American Republic,” separating the state from its public servants, practices, and institutions does violence to our Constitution, and threatens the health and stability of the Republic. 

“Constitutional Coup” cements the constitutionality of the administrative state, recognizing civil servants and public participants as necessary—rather than disposable—components. Casting privatization as an existential constitutional threat, it underscores how the fusion of politics and profits commercializes government—and consolidates state power in ways both the framers and administrative lawyers endeavored to disaggregate. It urges—and sketches the outlines of—a twenty-first-century bureaucratic renaissance.