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Article I – Legislative and Administrative Courts

Cite this article as: Jason Mance Gordon, "Article I – Legislative and Administrative Courts," in The Business Professor, updated January 3, 2015, last accessed April 1, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/knowledge-base/authority-for-administrative-courts/.

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Article I Federal Courts 

Article I federal courts include “legislative courts” & “administrative courts”. Legislative courts are those created by Congress pursuant to authority granted under Article I to handle special jurisdictional matters. Administrative courts are those created to adjudicate disputes of a particular administrative agency.

  • Relevant Law: Justice John Marshal explained the distinction between constitutional courts and legislative courts in American Ins. Co. v. Canter, writing “These courts, then, are not constitutional courts, in which the judicial power conferred by the constitution on the general government, can be deposited. They are incapable of receiving it. They are legislative courts, created in virtue of the general right of sovereignty which exists in the government, or in virtue of that clause which enables Congress to make all needful rules and regulations, respecting the territory belonging to the United States. The jurisdiction with which they are invested, is not a part of that judicial power which is defined in the 3d article of the constitution, but is conferred by congress, in the execution of those general powers which that body possesses over the territories of the United States.”

Examples of the major Article I, legislative courts include:

  • United States Tax Court
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
  • Court of Military Commission Review
  • United States Court of Appeal for Military Claims
  • United States Court of Federal Claims
  • United States Bankruptcy Courts

Other legislative tribunals include:

There are other special courts that exist within administrative agencies and are under the supervision of the Executive Branch. They were created pursuant to Congress’ power under Article I, but there are not entirely separate Article I Courts. Most notably, the US Immigration Court, and the US Board of Immigration Appeals, exists in the Executive Office of Immigration Review. It is a sub-agency of the Department of Justice. The Attorney General has the direct authority to refer him/herself cases for determination. There is a similar structure within numerous administrative agencies, such as the Social Security Administration and the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals.

Practice Question: Lawrence, a member of the US Army, is charged with deserting his unit at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He is later apprehended by state police and extradited back to military control. The military decides to bring charges against him for the crime of desertion under the military code of justice. What is the authority for bringing criminal charges against Lawrence and who oversees the process?

Proposed Answer

  • US Military Courts Martial are military criminal courts established pursuant to Article I. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution says Congress shall have the power “To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval forces.” Pursuant to this authority, Congress created the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) to administer matters of criminal justice within the military system.

Academic Research

Barton, Benjamin H., An Article I Theory of the Inherent Powers of the Federal Courts (March 15, 2011). University of Tennessee Legal Studies Research Paper No. 142. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1787400 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1787400

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