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Administrative Law
Quinnipiac University School of Law
Abbott, Melanie Beth


Legislative Control of Administrative Agencies

Congress creates and empowers administrative agencies through legislative authorization

Congress amends the agency’s enabling act or redefines the scope of the agency’s powers

Congress exercises ongoing supervision of an agency by controlling funding.

Delegation (Nondelegation) Doctrine: Congress cannot delegate legislative power to non-legislative bodies absent an intelligible principle to guide the delegate’s discretion.

Comes from the separation of powers, meaning that each branch of the government is confined to exercising those powers within its sphere, as provided by the Constitution.

Issue: To what extent does Congress have the power to allow branches to do something that looks like legislating?

Intelligible Principle: As long as some guidance is given, the non-delegation doctrine will not be violated. Congress can give the guiding principle to be acted upon.

Issue: whether the statute granting the power is too broad.

Intelligible Principle NOT Found. (stringent)

A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States: Section 3 of the NIRA: authorized the President to approve codes of fair competition for trades and industries.

Holding: Section 3 constituted an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to the President. Congress cannot delegate legislative power to the President to exercise an unfettered discretion to make whatever laws he thinks may be needed or advisable for the rehabilitation and expansion of trade or industry.

Panama Refining Co. v. Ryan: Section 9(c) of the NIRA gave the President authority to exclude from interstate commerce petroleum products “produced or withdrawn from storage in excess of the amount permitted by any state law or valid regulation.

Court sustained a challenge to the constitutionality of the statute for its failure to guide the President’s decision whether to use this power.

Congress has declared no policy, established no standard, no rule. There is no requirement, no definition of circumstances, and conditions in which the transportation is to be allowed or prohibited.

Carter v. Carter Coal: The Court struck down a statute that delegated regulatory authority to members of the coal industry. Holding: Delegation to private persons whose interests may be and often are adverse to the interests of others in the same business is legislative delegation in its most obnoxious form.

Delegation issue because unlimited discretion should not be given to private parties.

Intelligible Principle FOUND. (lenient)

Yakus v. United States: Court upheld delegation fixing fair and equitable price ceilings. The price fixing furthers the policy which Congress has established. Congress has specified the basic conditions of fact, which calls for the exercise of judgment and subsidiary agency policy.

Amalgmated Meat Cutters v. Connolly: Upheld a statute giving President Nixon authority to regulate wages, prices, and rents. Legislative history, purpose, and procedures of implementation called for sufficient constraints as to not be giving Nixon legislative power.

Intelligible Principle Statutorily Interpreted.

AFL-CIO v. American Petroleum Institute (Benzene Case): OSH Act §3(8) requires all work place safety and health standards be reasonable, necessary, and appropriate. §6(b)(5) allows the Secretary to select a standard that reasonably assures no employee will suffer material impairment of health or functional capacity. The secretary sets standards for airborne concentrations of Benzene. Secretary is first required to make a threshold finding, then can set standards.

American Textile Manufacturers Institute v. Donovan (Cotton Dust Case): addressed the issue in Benzene. So long as the secretary has found significant risk of harm, he is not further required to compare costs and benefits. STRONG DISSENT: Congress is avoiding making difficult policy choice quintessential legislative choice and should be made by elected representatives.

Whitman v. American Trucking Assns., Inc.: Clean Air Act delegates power to Secretary of the EPA to set standard at a level requisite to protect public health. Congress can create intelligible principle due to necessary and proper. Giving the EPA legislative power, would violate. Court will have to go far to find a situation where it does not exist.

Legislative Veto

Mechanisms by which Congress tried to retain control over legislative actions by requiring that action come back to Congress for approval.

Rejected in Chadha

INS v. Chadha: President’s delegate acts on behalf of President, given the power to Act. Court is concerned that Congress wants to have it both ways.

What is happening with Chadha is that once the agency makes the decision, and the Attorney General makes the decision on case by case basis to spend, the branch of Congress that is weighing in is not passing prospective, forward-thinking legislation.

Congress is making a decision with respect to the specific facts of Chadha.

Legislative veto violates the Bicameralism Clause and the Presentment Clause.

Bicameralism: Both Houses must pass even if you are trying to speed up the process

wer to appoint. The statute is invalid because Congress cannot appoint officers, and cannot appoint someone to do an executive job.

Congress can set qualifications and be precise in it’s legislation, but cannot appoint.

Removal Power: not spelled out in the Constitution, except for cases of Impeachment.

A rule emerged that Congress could not restrict the President’s power to remove an officer whom the President had appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate, if that officer exercised “purely executive” powers.

Myers v. United States: Court struck down a federal statute that required the President to get Senate approval to remove a Postmaster. The Court held that Congress could not interfere with the President’s removal of an executive officer whom the President had appointed with the Senate’s advice and consent.

In determining whether the President has the right to remove:

(1) Is the position purely executive? Is it legislative or quasi-judicial?

(2) If not purely executive, then Congressional limits are allowed.

(3) Is the person a principal officer or an inferior officer?

The President can appoint him, so the President can remove him.

Question about how much power Congress has to get involved with the removal of an executive branch power – Congress has no power, it is an executive branch function.

It does not matter what the officer’s role is – if the president can appoint at will, he can remove at will. Cannot create a role for Congress.

Court is distressed by Congress’s attempt.

Humphrey’s v. United States: The Court upheld a federal statute restricting the President’s ability to remove a member of the Federal Trade Commission, who had been appointed by the President with the Senate’s advice and consent.

Opposite Result from Myers: explained the difference in the roles the two removed officers had. FTC officers carried quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial powers.

President only has the power to remove purely executive officers. Congress could restrict the President’s power to remove appointees with quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial powers.