Intellligible Principle Law and Legal Definition

The Supreme Court has recognized that Congress could not delegate powers that were "strictly and exclusively legislative." Chief Justice John Marshall laid the groundwork for the "intelligible principle" standard that governs s non-delegation cases today. Marshall stated that if Congress delegates quasi-legislative powers to another body, it must provide a "general provision" by which "those who act" can "fill up the details." Therefore, Congress cannot give an outside agency free reign to make law, but it can authorize the agency to flesh out the details of a law Congress has already put in place. This became known as providing an "intelligible principle" to which the agency is instructed to conform. The "intelligible principle" could be anything in the "public interest, convenience, or necessity" or considered "just and reasonable." Being put in such subjective terms gives agencies vast discretion when enacting new rules.