Loving v. United States, 517 U.S. 748, 12 (1996)

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

Opinion of the Court

ity or discretion as to its execution, to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. The first cannot be done; to the latter no valid objection can be made.' " Field, supra, at 693-694, quoting Cincinnati, W. & Z. R. Co. v. Commissioners of Clinton County, 1 Ohio St. 77, 88-89 (1852).

Loving contends that the military death penalty scheme of Article 118 and RCM 1004 does not observe the limits of the delegation doctrine. He presses his constitutional challenge on three fronts. First, he argues that Congress cannot delegate to the President the authority to prescribe aggravating factors in capital murder cases. Second, he contends that, even if it can, Congress did not delegate the authority by implicit or explicit action. Third, Loving believes that even if certain statutory provisions can be construed as delegations, they lack an intelligible principle to guide the President's discretion. Were Loving's premises to be accepted, the President would lack authority to prescribe aggravating factors in RCM 1004, and the death sentence imposed upon him would be unconstitutional.


Loving's first argument is that Congress lacks power to allow the President to prescribe aggravating factors in military capital cases because any delegation would be inconsistent with the Framers' decision to vest in Congress the power "To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces." U. S. Const., Art. I, 8, cl. 14. At least in the context of capital punishment for peacetime crimes, which implicates the Eighth Amendment, this power must be deemed exclusive, Loving contends. In his view, not only is the determination of aggravating factors a quint-essential policy judgment for the Legislature, but the history of military capital punishment in England and America refutes a contrary interpretation. He asserts that his offense was not tried in a military court throughout most of English


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