Agencies as Legislative or Executive

A state agency is not part of the judicial department of government[i].  Agencies are not in the strict sense legislative or executive.  In Central R. Co. v. Department of Public Utilities, 7 N.J. 247 (N.J. 1951), the court held that an administrative body while exercising its powers acts as legislative agency of the state.  In Chicago & Southern Air Lines, Inc. v. Waterman S.S. Corp., 333 U.S. 103, 108-109 (U.S. 1948), the court held that an administrative body cannot in the proper sense characterized as an arm or an eye of the executive.  An administrative agency’s action is quasi-legislative in nature[ii]. When decisions of an agency is intended to have a wide coverage, then the administrative agency’s action is quasi judicial one[iii].  Similarly when agency’s function involves rulemaking, then it is quasi-legislative in character[iv].  In Gilpin County Bd. of Equalization v. Russell, 941 P.2d 257 (Colo. 1997), the court held that quasi- legislative action involves the formulation of regulatory policy of general application to an affected group.  Also quasi-judicial action focuses on the application of legislative or quasi-legislative requirements to an individual under a particular set of facts.

However, in Brown v. Board of Educ., 261 Kan. 134, 155-156 (Kan. 1996), the court held that an administrative agency may exercise powers that partake of the character of the powers exercised by any of the principal three branches of government.  In overseeing and managing its internal operations, it may act in an executive or administrative capacity.  In looking to the future and changing existing conditions by making a new rule to be applied thereafter within some area of its power, the agency exercises a legislative function.  Judicial functions performed by administrative agencies are those with which a court might have been charged in the first instance or functions courts have historically performed or did perform prior to the creation of the administrative body.

[i] Mogensen v. Bd. of Supervisors, 268 Neb. 26, 30 (Neb. 2004)

[ii] In re Adoption of 2003 Low Income Housing Tax Credit Qualified Allocation Plan, 369 N.J. Super. 2 (App.Div. 2004)

[iii] Northwest Covenant Med. Ctr. v. Fishman, 167 N.J. 123 (N.J. 2001)

[iv] Public Serv. Co. v. Trigen-Nations Energy Co., 982 P.2d 316 (Colo. 1999)


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