Nondelegation Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Non delegation doctrine is a principle of administrative law that Congress cannot delegate its legislative powers to agencies. Delegation is permitted only if Congress prescribes clear and adequate standards to guide an executive agency in making the policy. There should be an "intelligible principle” for the agencies to base their regulations on.

U.S. Const. art. I, § 1, vests all legislative powers in the Congress of the United States. The text permits no delegation of those powers, and so when Congress confers decision making authority upon agencies Congress must lay down by legislative act an intelligible principle to which the person or body authorized to act is directed to conform. The degree of agency discretion that is acceptable varies according to the scope of the power congressionally conferred. [Whitman v. Am. Trucking Ass'Ns, 531 U.S. 457 (U.S. 2001)]

Nondelegation doctrine is also known as delegation doctrine.