Alexander Hamilton, the Nondelegation Doctrine, and the Creation of the United States
43 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2023 Last revised: 9 Jan 2023
Date Written: December 27, 2022
In the period immediately preceding the Constitution’s adoption, New Yorkers engaged in a spirited debate over whether a proposed delegation from the State to the federal government authorizing collection of an impost would violate the clause of the New York Constitution that vested “supreme legislative power” in the State Assembly and Senate. Some, like Alexander Hamilton, believed that the clause did not bear on delegations to the federal government, but rather governed the relationship between the branches of the New York government. Others believed that a grant of impost authority impermissibly transferred legislative power away from the state legislature. This Article addresses the debate over delegation that occurred during this controversy—which, in the words of Alexander Hamilton, “begat” the Convention that wrote the U.S. Constitution. The Article also addresses the equally significant debates over delegation that occurred during the consideration of the Constitution itself. As this Article shows, the debates that led to and surrounded the Constitution’s adoption were in no small part debates about the legality of delegating sovereign legislative authority.
Keywords: Nondelegation, administrative law, constitutional law, New York Constitution, Alexander Hamilton
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