January 4, 2011
The Fourth Branch of Government
It has been taught since elementary school that the United States government consists of three branches, including the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. However, in those early days, there were no lessons on the influential fourth branch of government that operates alongside the other three and plays a central and increasingly active role in the system of checks and balances that was apparently designed to keep any one group from getting too much power. This essay defines the fourth branch of government and discusses its implications and increased powers, as well as the substantial affects it has on every person’s daily life. According to Vago (2009), the fourth branch of government is defined as administrative agencies with legislative authority to conduct investigations, make rules, and legally as well as officially make decisions about problems or disputes. For example, per the Free Dictionary.com, the Social Security Administration promulgates regulations concerning the provision of income for totally disabled people and also decides who is or is not disabled. Additionally, for instance, if an employee is discriminated against on the basis of his or her race, color, religious origin, and/or sexual orientation, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (USEEOC) is an administrative agency that, pursuant to its website, is authorized to investigate such charges of discrimination against employers who are covered by the law, make a finding, and then may file a lawsuit to protect the rights of individuals and the interests of the public. However, according to Bovard (1997), “[f]ederal bureaucracies place increasingly absurd burdens on businesses”. Further, according to the webpage article on lawjrank.org entitled “Administrative Agency” etc., the USEEOC and other federal administrative agencies are known as executive agencies regulated by the Executive Branch of government. Nevertheless, an enabling statute may create an independent local or state agency, commission, and/or board, which are not governed by the Executive Branch. The aforesaid webpage article also indicates that the primary difference between an executive agency and an independent agency is that the statute creating an independent agency generally prevents the president from removing the head of an agency without cause. In contrast, a head of an executive agency typically serves at the pleasure of the president. The United States Supreme Court on several occasions has considered whether independent administrative agencies are constitutional. In Humphrey's Executor v. United States, 295 U.S. 602, 55 S. Ct. 869, 79 L. Ed. 1611 (1935), the Court held that President Franklin D. Roosevelt could not remove the commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) without cause. The statute that created the commission permitted removal of the commissioner only for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance of office. In Humphrey, President Roosevelt attempted to remove FTC Commissioner William E. Humphrey, who was nominated by President Herbert Hoover to a seven-year term in 1931, in order to replace him with an individual of Roosevelt's choice. The Humphrey Court held that because he was not an executive officer, the president could not remove him from office except for the causes set forth in the statute.” Several of the administrative agencies that affect everyday activities are independent agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Labor Relations Board. However, there are numerous other local, state and federal agencies that make up the fourth branch of government. These agencies are granted legislative authority to administer specific government programs and areas...