Loving v. United States, 517 U.S. 748, 2 (1996)

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Cite as: 517 U. S. 748 (1996)


factors establishing a higher culpability are necessary to Article 118's constitutional validity, see, e. g., Lowenfield, supra, at 244. Pp. 755-756. 2. The President's prescription of the challenged aggravating factors did not violate the separation-of-powers principle. Pp. 756-774. (a) The fundamental precept of the delegation doctrine, a strand of this Court's separation-of-powers jurisprudence, is that the lawmaking function belongs to Congress, U. S. Const., Art. I, 1, and may not be conveyed to another branch or entity, Field v. Clark, 143 U. S. 649, 692. This principle does not mean, however, that only Congress can make a rule of prospective force. Although it may not delegate the power to make the law, which necessarily involves discretion as to what the law shall be, Congress may delegate to others the authority or discretion to execute the law under and in pursuance of its terms. Id., at 693-694. Pp. 756-759. (b) The Court rejects Loving's argument that Congress lacks power to delegate to the President the authority to prescribe aggravating factors in capital murder cases. An analysis of English constitutional history and of the historical necessities and events that instructed the Framers demonstrates that U. S. Const., Art. I, 8, cl. 14—which empowers Congress "[t]o make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval forces"—does not grant an exclusive, nondele-gable power to determine military punishments, but gives Congress such flexibility to exercise or share power as the times might demand. And it would be contrary to the respect owed the President as Commander in Chief to hold that he may not be given wide discretion and authority. Thus, in the circumstances presented here, Congress may delegate authority to the President to define the aggravating factors that permit imposition of a statutory penalty, with the regulations providing the narrowing of the death-eligible class that the Eighth Amendment requires. Pp. 759-769. (c) Also rejected is Loving's contention that, even if Congress can delegate to the President the authority to prescribe aggravating factors, Congress did not do so by implicit or explicit action in this instance. In fact, Congress exercised that power of delegation in 1950, when it enacted Articles 18, 56, and 36(a) of the UCMJ, 10 U. S. C. 818 (A court-martial "may, under such limitations as the President may prescribe, adjudge any punishment not forbidden by [the UCMJ], including the penalty of death when specifically authorized"), 856 ("The punishment which a court-martial may direct . . . may not exceed such limits as the President may prescribe for that offense"), and 836(a) (which empowers the President to make procedural rules for courts-martial, and was identified by Congress in 1985 as a source of Presidential authority


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