Third Annual Article I Writing Contest


Topic: The Nondelegation Doctrine: Intelligible Principle or Unworkable Standard?

Our Constitution vests legislative, executive, and judicial powers in three discrete, separate branches. Can Congress modify this constitutional structure by delegating its power to write laws to the administration? According to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Wayman v. Southard, the answer is no. How then do executive agencies possess the vast regulatory power we witness today? In J.W. Hampton v. United States, the Court held that agencies exercise executive, not legislative, power while writing regulations, so long as they are guided by an “intelligible principle” from Congress. 


Whatever its justification, this caveat has proven to be the rule rather than the exception. Examples of the Court invalidating regulations for violating the doctrine laid out in Wayman are rare. However, in Gundy v. United States’ striking dissent, three justices called for the revival of the nondelegation doctrine. With Justice Alito signaling agreement in his opinion concurring with the majority, and Justice Kavanaugh’s recent ascent to the Court, it seems likely the issue will return to the Court’s docket. Is the doctrine in need of resuscitation? What would a revived doctrine look like? What would be its practical effects? And how should Congress prepare if they are forced by the Court to take a more active role in generating regulations?

Prizes: The first-place winner will receive free registration, accommodations, and travel to the Federalist Society’s 2020 Student Symposium and a $7,000 cash prize.  A runner-up $2,000 cash prize and a $1,000 honorable mention prize will also be awarded.

Click here for the entry form with the full list of rules.

*Participants must be age 40 or under. Click here to learn more about contest eligibility and the rules.