Researching Administrative Law – A Process Oriented Approach

Researching Administrative Law : Tuesday, February 10, 12:10-1:10; JGH 546

Instructor:   Dana Neacsu


  • Introduction to administrative law research: Locating federal administrative law
  • A non-bibliographic, process-oriented approach: Developing the expertise to Incorporate Search engine and legal database results

Research Situation/Problem

You work for an environmental clinic in NJ, representing New Jersey landowners who could potentially be affected by the private corporation PennEast’s pipeline construction. Luckily, the 3rd circuit has denied the private corporation the right to take your clients’ property for their commercial purpose.

the federal government’s eminent domain power and its exemption from Eleventh Amendment immunity. Eminent domain is the power of a sovereign to condemn property for its own use, and there is no exception under the Natural Gas Act that allows private entities to condemn land.
In re PennEast Pipeline Co., LLC, 938 F.3d 96, 104 (3d Cir. 2019), as amended (Sept. 11, 2019), as amended (Sept. 19, 2019)

But what about the Natural Gas Act (215 U.S.C. § 717f(h)), which is under FERC’s  interpretation authority? Can Penneast still use the agency interpretation to influence a US S.Ct appeal (~agency deference argument~) on ground that the court’s and the agency’s interpretations are “split”?  

From an administrative research point of view, what do you need to know to advance your client’s position?


  1. Is there a way to know if FERC has been called upon to issue such a declaratory judgment?
  2. Was there a notification process about it?
  3. What about comments (interventions) to FERC’s litigation?
  4. Is there such a declaratory judgment?
  5. Where would you find it?


  • Know the specificity of administrative research – it benefits from collaborative expertise
  • Know the best access points for administrative law research (news articles; google and agency web sites)
  • Learn about administrative (hard and soft) law and how to find it;
  • Find the relevant agencies; the rule-making as well as the decision-making rules


Class Presentation