Author granted license

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Document Type


Publication Date





Cato Institute




In 2000, Cass Sunstein quipped that the conventional nondelegation doctrine, which holds that there are judicially enforceable constitutional limits on the extent to which Congress can confer discretion on other actors to determine the content of federal law, “has had one good year, and 211 bad ones (and counting).”1 The “one good year,” he said, was 1935, when the Court twice held unconstitutional certain provisions of the National Industrial Recovery Act that gave the president power to approve or create codes of conduct for essentially all American businesses, subject only to very vague, and often contradictory, statutory exhortations to pursue various goals.2 In 2018, Professor Sunstein still claimed: “To say the least, the standard nondelegation doctrine does not have a glorious past. In all of American history, it has had just one good year.”

Link to Publisher Site



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.