POL 117a Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Nondelegation Doctrine, Sentencing Reform Act, Federal Register

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7 Feb 2017
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The Mistretta Case Lecture
Mistretta v. U.S. (1989)
Scalia dissented, arguing that Congress cannot delegate its power.
Section 553 of the APA
If Congress requires agencies to hold hearings, then these hearings require a testimonial record.
Courts can look at the record to see if the agency has followed Congress’s rules. The Federal
Register Act of 1935 required that all administrative agency rules be published. The APA
requires that all rules be published before they are enacted (Sec. 553). Section 553 requires a
period of time for comments before a rule is put into effect (rule is published, comments are
made (informal record of comments), the agency reviews the comments after 60 days, the rule is
changed as necessary). Formal rulemaking hearings are rare, unlike informal rulemaking. The
formal process resembles a judicial process. Regulation consists of rulemaking and adjudication.
The Circuit Court can review agency rules through appeals. The rule of law limits government.
Mistretta Case
The case of Mistretta concerned the Sentencing Commission’s ability to make laws pertaining to
sentencing limits for certain crimes. Mistretta was a criminal who felt that his sentence under
these laws was unconstitutional, because only Congress can make laws. The Congress had
delegated the Sentencing Commission the power to regulate sentences, because issues had
emerged pertaining to similar crimes with different sentences. The Sentencing Reform Act of
1984 created the Sentencing Commission, which was created to be a body in the Judicial Branch.
The Schechter case required standards for agencies Intelligible Principle. Mistretta’s attorney
argued that the Sentencing Reform Act violated the separation of powers principle. The
District Court upheld the trial court’s decision. The Supreme Court decides that the Act was
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