Delegation Run Amok:

From all indications, the proposed "bailout" bill will result in delegation run amok--Congress will be ceding virtually unreviewable dictatorial power to the executive branch to spend $700 billion however it pleases. It would be amazing if, given the pile at money at stake, improper favoritism of one sort or another won't dictate to some extent how the money is spent; if I were running a bank carrying bad debt, I'd certainly be investing my "public policy" resources in ensuring that my back is at the front of the line.

Perhaps this presents an opportunity for the Supreme Court to reassert some limits on delegation. In fact, even under current doctrine, one can argue that the bill contains no "intelligible principle" as required, unless "do something about this crisis, here's a boatload of money" is an intelligible principle.

Co-blogger Eric need not fear, this need not interfere with responding to the emergency. The Court can take its sweet time to hear a case on this--the Court didn't declare the National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional until two years after its passage, and it would take time for appeals to percolate in any event. But an eventual decision invalidating the bailout law will make sure it's a one-time thing.

This seems like a good time to recommend David Schoenbrod's excellent book on the nondelegation doctrine, Power Without Responsibility.