The Congress is authorized to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution" its general powers. U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, para. 18. The Congress is not permitted to abdicate or to transfer to others the essential legislative functions with which it is thus vested.
A corporation was convicted of violating the Live Poultry Code, which was promulgated under § 3 of the National Industrial Recovery Act. The Act authorized the President to approve codes of fair competition, and the Code was approved by an executive order.
Is the Live Poultry Code and conviction valid?
The Court held the code provisions invalid because they improperly delegated legislative power to the Executive Branch and because the provisions regarding minimum wages and maximum hours attempted to regulate intrastate transactions that affected interstate commerce only indirectly. The Court found that the Act prescribed no constitutional method or procedure for ascertaining unfair methods of competition. Instead of prescribing rules of conduct, the Act authorized the making of codes to prescribe them. The discretion of the President in approving or prescribing codes was virtually unfettered and, thus, the code-making authority conferred was an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power.