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343 U.S.

JACKSON, J., dissenting.


The quasi-legislative function of filling in blank spaces in regulatory legislation and reconciling conflicting policy standards must neither be passed on to the courts nor assumed by them.

That the work of a Commission in translating an abstract statute into a concrete cease and desist order in large measure escapes judicial review because of its legislative character is an axiom of administrative law, as the Court's decision herein shows. In delegating the function of filling out the legislative will in particular cases, Congress must not leave the statute too empty of meaning. Courts look to its standards to see whether the Commission's result is within the prescribed terms of reference, whether the secondary legislation properly derives from the primary legislation.

Then, too, we look to administrative findings, not to reconsider their justification, but to learn whether the parties have had the process of determination to which the statute has entitled them and whether the Commission has thought about—or at least has written aboutall factors which Congress directed it to consider in translating unfinished legislation into a "detailed set of guiding yardsticks" that becomes law of the case for parties and courts.9

However, a determination by an independent agency, with "quasi-legislative" discretion in its armory, has a


If the independent agencies could realize how much trustworthiness judges give to workmanlike findings and opinions and how their causes are prejudiced on review by slipshod, imprecise findings and failure to elucidate by opinion the process by which ultimate determinations have been reached, their work and their score on review would doubtless improve. See Henderson, The Federal Trade Commission, c. VI, p. 327. See also Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, Task Force Report on Regulatory Commissions (App. N), pp. 129–130.


JACKSON, J., dissenting.

much larger immunity from judicial review than does a determination by a purely executive agency. The court, in review of a case under the tax law or the patent law, where the legislative function has been exhausted and policy considerations are settled in the Acts themselves, follows the same mental operation as the executive officer. On the facts, there results an obligation to pay tax, or there is a right to a patent. The court can deduce these legal rights or obligations from the statute in the same manner as the executive officer. Hence, review of such executive decisions proceeds with no more deference to the administrative judgment than to a decision of a lower court.

Very different, however, is the review of the "quasilegislative" decision. There the right or liability of the parties is not determined by mere application of statute to the facts. The right or obligation results not merely from the abstract expression of the will of Congress in the statute, but from the Commission's completion and concretization of that will in its order. Cf. MontanaDakota Co. v. Northwestern Public Service Co., supra, 251; Phelps Dodge Corp. v. Labor Board, supra.

On review, the Court does not decide whether the correct determination has been reached. So far as the Court is concerned, a wide range of results may be equally correct. In review of such a decision, the Court does not at all follow the same mental processes as the Commission did in making it, for the judicial function excludes (in theory, at least) the policy-making or legislative element, which rightfully influences the Commission's judgment but over which judicial power does not extend. Since it is difficult for a court to determine from the record where quasi-legislative policy making has stopped and quasi-judicial application of policy has begun, the entire process escapes very penetrating scrutiny. Cf.

JACKSON, J., dissenting.

343 U.S.

Federal Power Commission v. Hope Natural Gas Co., 320 U. S. 591.

Courts are no better equipped to handle policy questions and no more empowered to exercise legislative discretion on contempt proceedings than on review proceedings. It is plain that, if the scheme of regulating complicated enterprises through unfinished legislation is to be just and effective, we must insist that the legislative function be performed and exhausted by the administrative body before the case is passed on to the courts.


This proceeding should be remanded for a more definitive and circumscribed order.

Returning to this case, I cannot find that ten years of litigation have served any useful purpose whatever. No doubt it is administratively convenient to blanket an industry under a comprehensive prohibition in bulk-an undiscriminating prohibition of discrimination. But this not only fails to give the precision and concreteness of legal duties to the abstract policies of the Act, it really promulgates an inaccurate partial paraphrase of its indeterminate generalities. Instead of completing the legislation by an order which will clarify the petitioner's duty, it confounds confusion by literally ordering it to cease what the statute permits it to do.

This Court and the court below defer solution of the problems inherent in such an order, on the theory that if petitioner offends again there may be an enforcement order, and if it then offends again there may be a contempt proceeding and that will be time enough for the court to decide what the order against the background of the Act really means. While I think this less than justice, I am not greatly concerned about what the Court's decision does to this individual petitioner, for whom I foresee no danger more serious than endless litigation.


JACKSON, J., dissenting.

But I am concerned about what it does to administrative law.

To leave definition of the duties created by an order to a contempt proceeding is for the courts to end where they should begin. Injunctions are issued to be obeyed, even when justification to issue them may be debatable. United States v. United Mine Workers, 330 U. S. 258, 289 et seq., 307. But in this case issues that seem far from frivolous as to what is forbidden are reserved for determination when punishment for disobedience is sought. The Court holds that some modifications are "implicit" in this order. Why should they not be made explicit? Why approve an order whose literal terms we know go beyond the authorization, on the theory that its excesses may be retracted if ever it needs enforcement? Why invite judicial indulgence toward violation by failure to be specific, positive and concrete?

It does not impress me as lawyerly practice to leave to a contempt proceeding the clarification of the reciprocal effects of this Act and order, and determination of the effect of statutory provisos which are then to be read into the order. The courts cannot and should not assume that function. It is, by our own doctrine, a legislative or "quasi-legislative" function, and the courts cannot take over the discretionary functions of the Commission. which should enter into its determinations. Plainly this order is not in shape to enforce and does not become so by the Court's affirmance.

This proceeding should be remanded to the Commission with directions to make its order specific and concrete, to specify the types of discount which are forbidden and reserve to petitioner the rights which the statute allows it, unless they are deemed lost, forfeited or impaired by the violations, in which case any limitation. should be set forth. The Commission should, in short, in the light of its own policy and the record, translate

JACKSON, J., dissenting.

343 U.S.

this Act into a "set of guiding yardsticks," admittedly now lacking. If that cannot be done, there should be no judicial approval for an order to cease and desist from we don't know what.

If that were done, I should be inclined to accept the Government's argument that, along with affirmance, enforcement may be ordered. I see no real sense, when the case is already before the Court and is approved, in requiring one more violation before its obedience will be made mandatory on pain of contempt. But, as this order stands, I am not surprised that enforcement should be left to some later generation of judges.

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