After a long history of violating the Non-Delegation doctrine, A. L. A. Schechter Poultry Corporation v. United States (1935) said Congress cannot delegate legislative powers to the executive branch.
Here’s the facts of A. L. A. Schechter Poultry Corporation v. United States aka “the sick chicken case”. A. L. A. Schechter Poultry Corporation was a chicken slaughter house in Brooklyn, New York. In this case, President FDR passed the National Industrial Recovery Act to regulate the poultry industry under the Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause; however, the President’s Act lacked standards for businesses to implement objectives. Schechter Poultry Corp argued the Act was unconstitutional under the non-delegation doctrine.
When this case made it to the Supreme Court, it presented the following issue: Did Congress act unconstitutionally when delegating legislative power to President FDR?
The Supreme Court made this ruling, although inconsistent with past Congressional practices. Congress cannot violate Article 1 of the Constitution by transferring it’s legislative functions to the executive branch of government.
In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Hughes mentioned Congress cannot transfer it’s legislative powers. He said: “And the Congress is authorized ‘To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution’ its general powers. Art. I, 8, par. 18. The Congress is not permitted to abdicate or to transfer to others the essential legislative functions with which it is thus vested. We have repeatedly recognized the necessity of adapting.” Congress cannot transfer it’s legislative powers to the President.
In regards to Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause, this case was another inconsistent ruling in the long history of rulings by the Supreme Court. For example, Chief Justice Marshall made a broad ruling of Necessary And Proper Clause to bring into force the foregoing power of the Commerce Clause in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819). In Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842) under the Taney Court, Justice Story read narrowly the Necessary and Proper Clause to find a Pennsylvania statute unconstitutional. Also, Chief Justice Chase ruled narrowly on the Necessary And Proper Clause in Hepburn v. Griswald (1870) when it came to executing the foregoing powers of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. Again, the Supreme Court switched to a broad reading of the Necessary And Proper Clause in Knox v. Lee (1871). Throughout the years as the Supreme Court’s composition changed, it’s rulings on the Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause remained inconsistent.
Overall, this case said Congress can’t delegate it’s legislative powers to the executive branch. Congress makes the laws, and the Executive does not make laws. Once again, the Four Horsemen thwarted FDR’s New Deal regulations.