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Thus Congress, in this Act, has refrained from imposition of an unconditional duty directly enforceable by the government through civil or criminal proceedings in court, as it has in the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Wilson Tariff Act of 1894. It has carefully kept such cases as this out of the courts and has shielded a violator from any penalty until the administrative tribunal hands down a definitive order. The difference is accented by another section of the Robinson-Patman Act which does make participation by any person in specified transactions which discriminate "to his knowledge” a criminal violation judicially punishable.
It may help clarify the proper administrative function in such cases to think of the legislation as unfinished law which the administrative body must complete before it is ready for application. In a very real sense the legis
5 15 U. S. C. $$ 1-4, 8, 9. 6 15 U.S.C. $ 13a.
· For emphasis and appreciation of this concept of American administrative law and of the function of the administrative tribunal as we have evolved it, I am indebted to an unpublished treatise by Dr. Robert F. Weissenstein, whose Viennese and European background, education and practice gave him a perspective attained with difficulty by us who are so accustomed to our own process.
Lord Chancellor Herschell has employed a different but effective figure. “The truth is,” said he, “the legislation is a skeleton piece of legislation left to be filled up in all its substantial and material particulars by the action of rules to be made by the Board of Trade. . it was the intention of the Legislature, having expressed the general object, and having provided the necessary penalty, to leave the subordinate legislation, so to speak, to be carried out by the Board of Trade.” Institute of Patent Agents v. Lockwood, (1894] A. C. 347, 356–357.
For an excellent study of English "Delegated Legislation Today" see Willis, Parliamentary Powers of English Government Departments, c. II, p. 47. For the extent to which this system has been used in England, see Lord Macmillan, Local Government Law and Administration in England and Wales, Vol. I, Preface.
JACKSON, J., dissenting.
lation does not bring to a close the making of the law. The Congress is not able or willing to finish the task of prescribing a positive and precise legal right or duty by eliminating all further choice between policies, expediences or conflicting guides, and so leaves the rounding out of its command to another, smaller and specialized agency
It is characteristic of such legislation that it does not undertake to declare an end result in particular cases but rather undertakes to control the processes in the administrator's mind by which he shall reach results. Because Congress cannot predetermine the weight and effect of the presence or absence of all of the competing considerations or conditions which should influence decisions regulating modern business, it attempts no more than to indicate generally the outside limits of the ultimate result and to set out matters about which the administrator must think when he is determining what within those confines the compulsion in a particular case is to be.
Such legislation does not confer on any of the parties in interest the right to a particular result, nor even to what we might think ought to be the correct one, but it gives them the right to a process for determining these rights and duties. Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. v. Northwestern Public Service Co., 341 U. S. 246, 251; Phelps Dodge Corp. v. Labor Board, 313 U. S. 177, 194, 195.
Such legislation represents inchoate law in the sense that it does not lay down rules which call for immediate compliance on pain of punishment by judicial process. The intervention of another authority must mature and perfect an effective rule of conduct before one is subject to coercion. The statute, in order to rule any individual case, requires an additional exercise of discretion and that
Jackson, J., dissenting.
last touch of selection which neither the primary legislator nor the reviewing court can supply. The only reason
. for the intervention of an administrative body is to exercise a grant of unexpended legislative power to weigh what the legislature wants weighed, to reduce conflicting abstract policies to a concrete net remainder of duty or right. Then, and then only, do we have a completed expression of the legislative will, in an administrative order which we may call a sort of secondary legislation, ready to be enforced by the courts.
The constitutional independence of the administrative tribunal presupposes that it will perform the function of completing unfinished law.
The rise of administrative bodies probably has been the most significant legal trend of the last century and perhaps more values today are affected by their decisions than by those of all the courts, review of administrative decisions apart. They also have begun to have important consequences on personal rights. Cf. United States v. Spector, 343 U. S. 169. They have become a veritable fourth branch of the Government, which has deranged our three-branch legal theories much as the concept of a fourth dimension unsettles our three-dimensional thinking.
Courts have differed in assigning a place to these seemingly necessary bodies in our constitutional system. Administrative agencies have been called quasi-legislative, quasi-executive or quasi-judicial, as the occasion required, in order to validate their functions within the separation-of-powers scheme of the Constitution. The mere retreat to the qualifying "quasi” is implicit with confession that all recognized classifications have broken JACKSON, J., dissenting.
down, and “quasi” is a smooth cover which we draw over our confusion as we might use a counterpane to conceal a disordered bed.
The perfect example is the Federal Trade Commission itself. By the doctrine that it exercises legislative discretions as to policy in completing and perfecting the legislative process, it has escaped executive domination on the one hand and been exempted in large measure from judicial review on the other. If all it has to do is to order the literal statute faithfully executed, it would exercise a function confided exclusively to the President and would be subject to his control. Cf. Myers v. United States, 272 U. S. 52; U. S. Const., Art. II, SS 1, 3. This Court saved it from executive domination only by recourse to the doctrine that “In administering the provisions of the statute in respect of “unfair methods of competition'—that is to say in filling in and administering the details embodied by that general standard—the commission acts in part quasi-legislatively and in part quasi-judicially.” Humphrey's Executor United States, 295 U. S. 602, 628.
When Congress enacts a statute that is complete in policy aspects and ready to be executed as law, Congress has recognized that enforcement is only an executive function and has yielded that duty to wholly executive agencies, even though determination of fact questions was necessary. Examples of the creation of such rights
8 The legislative history of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U. S. C. § 201 et seq., exemplifies the choice which Congress must make between itself completing the legislation, and delegating the completion to an administrative agency. H. R. Rep. No. 2738, 75th Cong., 3d Sess., sets forth a summary of both the House Bill and the Senate Bill. The Senate Bill provided for the creation of a Labor Standards Board composed of five members, which was empowered to declare from time to time, for such occupations as
JACKSON, J., dissenting.
and obligations are patent, revenue and customs laws. Only where the law is not yet clear of policy elements and therefore not ready for mere executive enforcement is it withdrawn from the executive department and confided to independent tribunals. If the tribunal to which such discretion is delegated does nothing but promulgate as its own decision the generalities of its statutory charter, the rationale for placing it beyond executive control is gone.
are brought within the bill, minimum wages “which shall be as nearly adequate as economically feasible without curtailing opportunity for employment, to maintain a minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency, and general well-being ...” but not in excess of 40 cents per hour. Id., at 15. Similar provisions empowered the Board to determine maximum hours, provided that in no case should the maximum be set at less than 40 hours. Id., at 16. Likewise, the Board was empowered to require the elimination of substandard labor conditions. Id., at 17.
The House Bill, on the other hand, itself laid down the minimum wage and maximum hour requirements, id., 22–23, and gave to the Secretary of Labor discretion only to determine which industries were within the terms of the law, plus the power to investigate compliance with the law. Id., at 23. The Act as ultimately adopted followed the House Bill; although there was created the office of Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division in the Department of Labor, the Administrator was given discretion only in minor matters relating to the applicability of the congressional standards. 52 Stat. 1060, 29 U. S. C. § 201 et seq.
The Administration favored the plan of delegating legislative discretion to an independent administrative body to apply general standards to concrete cases. See testimony of Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, Joint Hearings before the Senate Committee on Education and Labor and the House Committee on Labor on S. 2475 and H. R. 7200, 75th Cong., 1st Sess. 178. However, the attempt of Congress itself to complete this complex law for enforcement by the Executive, through the courts, not only flooded the courts with litigation, but the courts' interpretation of the Act contrary to the policy which Congress thought it had indicated had disastrous consequences. 61 Stat. 84, 29 U. S. C. § 251 et seq.