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To forestall the danger of encroachment beyond the legislative sphere, the U. S. Constitution imposes two basic and related constraints on the Congress. It may not invest itself or its members with either executive power or judicial power. And, when it exercises its legislative power, it must follow the single, finely wrought and exhaustively considered, procedures specified in U.S. Const., art I.
Pursuant to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Act of 1986, 49 U.S.C.S. §§ 2451-2461, Congress authorized the transfer of two major airports from the federal government to petitioner airport authority but conditioned the transfer on the creation of petitioner board composed of nine members of Congress. It vested petitioner board with veto power over decisions made by petitioner airport authority. Respondent citizens filed an action seeking declaration that the conditional transfer violated the constitutional principle of separation of powers under U.S. Const., art. I. The trial court granted summary judgment to petitioners holding that the veto provisions did not violate the separation of powers doctrine. The appellate court reversed finding that the provisions were unconstitutional.
Did the conditional transfer violate the constitutional principle of separation of powers under U.S. Const., art. I?
The United States Supreme Court affirmed holding that the provisions were an impermissible encroachment on executive power and thus violated the separation of powers requirement of U.S. Const., art. I. According to the Court, the statutory condition was unconstitutional regardless of whether the board of review's power was executive or legislative, because (a) if such power was executive, the Federal Constitution did not permit an agent of Congress to exercise such power, and (b) if such power was legislative, Congress was required to exercise it in conformity with the bicameralism and presentment requirements of the Constitution.