Admin Law Question - re: Independent Agencies

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Admin Law Question - re: Independent Agencies

Postby TTH » Mon May 09, 2011 2:42 pm

Our first-year legislation class has some admin law stuff in it. Can someone help out with this?

What is the primary difference between an administrative agency and an independent agency? I know that heads of independent agencies are usually appointed by the president and removable for good cause (i.e. that Congress has the ability to limit the removal power). Administrative Agencies are heads of departments that are appointed by the President and removable at will.

If this is the distinction, what is the general idea behind the four part test of Morrison?

Basically, is it

IF Admin (non-independent) Agency, Pres. can remove at will.

If Independent Agency, apply the Morrison test?

Cherith Cutestory

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Re: Admin Law Question - re: Independent Agencies

Postby Cherith Cutestory » Mon May 09, 2011 4:13 pm

I think you might be conflating the Morrison factors (subject to removal by principal officers, limited power scope, etc.) which are about determining whether an officer is Superior or Inferior (and thus who should be able to properly appoint) with Congress's ability to limit the removal power.

You use Morrison (and Edmond if you used that case) to determine if the Officer is Superior (can only be appointed by the President with consent of Senate) or Inferior (which means Congress can give the appointment power to other Department Heads, courts, or the President). Usually a fact pattern will have Congress allowing a Department Head or the courts to appoint an officer and you'd have to determine if only the President should be given that power due to the officer being superior.

Congress CAN (not has to) limit the ability of the President to remove agency officials that have quasi-legislative or quasi-judicative functions. Morrison also stands for the fact that if a purely executive officer with limited or specific powers needs insulation then the President's ability to remove at will can also be limited, but Congress can't limit the President's ability to remove Department Heads or major executive officers (Myers). There's a lot of wiggle room between those two poles to argue in.

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