Loving v. United States, 517 U.S. 748, 25 (1996)

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772

LOVING v. UNITED STATES

Opinion of the Court

"public interest, convenience, or necessity"). Had the delegations here called for the exercise of judgment or discretion that lies beyond the traditional authority of the President, Loving's last argument that Congress failed to provide guiding principles to the President might have more weight. We find no fault, however, with the delegation in this case.

In United States v. Curtis, the Court of Military Appeals discerned a principle limiting the President's discretion to define aggravating factors for capital crimes in Article 36: namely, the directive that regulations the President prescribes must "apply the principles of law . . . generally recognized in the trial of criminal cases in the United States district courts, but which may not be contrary to or inconsistent with this chapter," 10 U. S. C. 836(a). We think, however, that the question to be asked is not whether there was any explicit principle telling the President how to select aggravating factors, but whether any such guidance was needed, given the nature of the delegation and the officer who is to exercise the delegated authority. First, the delegation is set within boundaries the President may not exceed. Second, the delegation here was to the President in his role as Commander in Chief. Perhaps more explicit guidance as to how to select aggravating factors would be necessary if delegation were made to a newly created entity without independent authority in the area. Cf. Mistretta, 488 U. S., at 374- 379 (upholding delegation to the United States Sentencing Commission because of detailed congressional directives channeling agency discretion). The President's duties as Commander in Chief, however, require him to take responsible and continuing action to superintend the military, including the courts-martial. The delegated duty, then, is interlinked with duties already assigned to the President by express terms of the Constitution, and the same limitations on delegation do not apply "where the entity exercising the delegated authority itself possesses independent authority over the subject matter," United States v. Mazurie, 419 U. S.

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