Brief Fact Summary. The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (Act), as amended in 1974, created an eight-member Federal Election Commission (Commission) and vested in it wide-ranging rulemaking and enforcement powers for administering the Act. A separation of powers challenge was brought that Congress was precluded from vesting in itself the authority to appoint members of the Commission.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Article II, Section:2, cl. 2, of the Constitution of the United States, the Appointment Clause, provides: “The President shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Department.”
Issue. Were the powers of the Act vesting in the Commission the primary responsibility for conducting civil litigation in the courts constitutional?
Held. No. The provisions of the Act which vested in the Commission primary responsibilities for conducting civil litigation in the courts of United States for vindicating public rights violated Article II, Section:2, cl. 2, of the Constitution. Those administrative functions may only be performed by persons who are Officers of the United States. Dissent. None. Concurrence. None.
Discussion. Congress’ power under the Necessary and Proper Clause was bound by the express language of Article II. The Members of the Commission could only perform functions properly delegable by Congress, in an areas sufficiently removed from administration and enforcement of the public law as to permit their being performed by persons not “Officers of the United States.”