Allstates Refractory Contractors, a general contractor that provides furnace services, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Labor, arguing that the provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 that empowers the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create permanent safety standards that are “reasonably necessary or appropriate to provide safe or healthful employment and places of employment” is unconstitutional. According to Allstates, the provision impermissibly delegates lawmaking power to the executive branch. The district court dismissed the case, observing that the Supreme Court has long held that a statute does not delegate legislative power as long as it provides an intelligible principle to guide executive implementation and that the Supreme Court has regularly upheld comparably broad grants of executive authority under this standard. Allstates appealed to the Sixth Circuit.
On appeal, Public Citizen filed an amicus brief in support of the district court’s judgment. The brief explains that the Supreme Court’s intelligible principle test appropriately allows Congress needed flexibility in deciding how best to pursue its policy goals while placing meaningful constraints on executive discretion. The relevant statutory provision passes this test because it clearly states Congress’s aim of providing safe and healthful workplaces and defines the scope of the agency’s authority to pursue that aim. Invalidating the provision, we argue, would be inconsistent with an entire body of Supreme Court precedent that has upheld statutes authorizing federal agencies to issue important public protections.
The court of appeals affirmed the district court, holding that Congress’s grant of authority to OSHA to promulgate workplace safety regulations complies with the Constitution.