Opinion of the Court
(Congress may delegate authority under the taxing power); cf. Lichter v. United States, 334 U. S. 742, 778 (1948) (general rule is that "[a] constitutional power implies a power of delegation of authority under it sufficient to effect its purposes") (emphasis deleted). Indeed, it would be contrary to precedent and tradition for us to impose a special limitation on this particular Article I power, for we give Congress the highest deference in ordering military affairs. Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U. S. 57, 64-65 (1981). 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. We decline to import into Clause 14 a restrictive nondelegation principle that the Framers left out.
There is no absolute rule, furthermore, against Congress' delegation of authority to define criminal punishments. We have upheld delegations whereby the Executive or an independent agency defines by regulation what conduct will be criminal, so long as Congress makes the violation of regulations a criminal offense and fixes the punishment, and the regulations "confin[e] themselves within the field covered by the statute." United States v. Grimaud, 220 U. S. 506, 518 (1911). See also Touby v. United States, 500 U. S. 160 (1991). The exercise of a delegated authority to define crimes may be sufficient in certain circumstances to supply the notice to defendants the Constitution requires. See M. Kraus & Bros., Inc. v. United States, 327 U. S. 614, 622 (1946). In the circumstances presented here, so too may Congress 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.
In 1950, Congress confronted the problem of what criminal jurisdiction would be appropriate for Armed Forces of colossal size, stationed on bases that in many instances were small societies unto themselves. Congress, confident in the procedural protections of the UCMJ, gave to courts-martial juris-Page: Index Previous 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Next
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