American Power & Light Co. v. Securities & Exchange Commission

In American Power v. Securities and Exchange Commission, 329 U.S. 90, 67 S.Ct. 133, 91 L.Ed. 103 (1946), the Court upheld a delegation of power to the SEC which authorized it to act to prohibit any holding company structure which might "unduly or unnecessarily complicate" the corporate structure or "unfairly or inequitably distribute voting power among security holders." In testing this broad delegation of authority the Court took into consideration the "necessities of modern legislation dealing with complex economic and social problems." It said: "The legislative process would frequently bog down if Congress were constitutionally required to appraise beforehand the myriad situations to which it wishes a particular policy to be applied and to formulate specific rules for each situation. Necessity therefore fixes a point beyond which it is unreasonable and impracticable to compel Congress to prescribe detailed rules; it then becomes constitutionally sufficient if Congress clearly delineates the general policy, the public agency which is to apply it, and the boundaries of this delegated authority. Private rights are protected by access to the courts to test the application of the policy . . . ." (329 U.S. at 105, 67 S.Ct. at 142.) In American Power & Light Co. v. Securities & Exchange Commission, 329 U.S. 90, 67 S.Ct. 133, 91 L.Ed. 103 (1946), Mr. Justice Murphy, speaking for the Court, said: 'It is a fundamental principle, however, that where Congress has entrusted an administrative agency with the responsibility of selecting the means of achieving the statutory policy 'the relation of remedy to policy is peculiarly a matter for administrative competence.' In dealing with the complex problem of adjusting holding company systems in accordance with the legislative standards, the Commission here has accumulated experience and knowledge which no court can hop to attain. Its judgment is entitled to the greatest weight, while recognizing that the Commission's discretion must square with its responsibility. Only if the remedy chosen is unwarranted 86 U.S.App.D.C. 360 in law or is without justification in fact should a court attempt to intervene in the matter. Neither ground of intervention is present in this instance.' (329 page 112, 67 page 146, 91 L.Ed. 103.)