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Delegation

powers government branch authority

A sending away; a putting into commission; the assignment of a debt to another; the entrusting of another with a general power to act for the good of those who depute him or her; a body of delegates. The transfer of authority by one person to another.

The body of delegates from a state to a national nominating convention or from a county to a state or other party convention. The whole body of delegates or representatives sent to a convention or assembly from one district, place, or political unit is collectively spoken of as a delegation.

Delegation of powers, for example, occurs when a government branch in which authority is placed imparts such authority to another branch or to an ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY. The U.S. Constitution delegates different powers to the three branches of government: the executive, legislative, and judicial. However, certain powers may not be transferred from one branch of government to another, such as the congressional power to declare war.

Congress has wide latitude in delegating powers to administrative agencies, and the breadth of the powers given to these agencies has led to a perception that administrative bodies are a "fourth branch" of the U.S. government. On a few occasions, mostly in the early twentieth century, the U.S. Supreme Court has applied the "non-delegation doctrine," which restricts the ability of Congress to delegate responsibilities reserved for one of the three branches of government established in the Constitution. However, the Court has seldom invoked this doctrine and rarely finds that Congress has exceeded its authority in delegating powers to agencies. Legal scholars nevertheless continue to debate what the proper limits of congressional delegation should be.

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