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Law School Case Brief

United States v. Curtiss-Wright Exp. Corp. - 14 F. Supp. 230 (S.D.N.Y. 1936)

Rule:

It is the duty of Congress alone to conclude whether a given law will work.

Facts:

Defendants were indicted for conspiracy to violate a joint resolution of Congress, which prohibited the sale of arms to countries engaged in armed conflict, and the presidential proclamation issued under the authority of the joint resolution. Defendants committed the acts in the alleged conspiracy while the presidential proclamation was in effect; however, by the time of defendants’ indictment, the President had revoked the proclamation because the war had ended. Defendants filed a demurrer to the conspiracy count, alleging that the circumstances of the case showed the existence of a delegation of legislative power to the executive.

Issue:

Was there a proper delegation of legislative power to the executive?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court held that the executive was permitted to exercise legislative power to determine the future efficacy of the law, and such delegation was fatal to the defendants’ indictment. According to the Court, it was the duty of Congress alone to conclude whether a given law will work. The Court averred that the legislature cannot delegate its power to make a law; however, it can make a law to delegate a power to determine some fact or state of things upon which the law makes, or intends to make, its own action depend. As such, the Court sustained the defendants’ demurrer upon the ground asserted.

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