Another facet of the law is what is referred to as administrative law. At both the state and federal level, there are administrative agencies. Most of those agencies are part of the executive branch of government. As discussed in the material dealing with constitutional law, our government is divided into three branches—the executive branch, the judicial branch, and the legislative branch.
The executive branch is headed by the president at the federal level and by the governor at the state level. The judicial branch at the federal level is headed by the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. At the state level, the Judicial branch is headed by the chief justice of the highest court of that state, which in most instances is referred to as the Supreme Court (although in some states, it may be referred to as the Court of Appeals).
Within the legislative branch, there typically is no one person who is the head of that branch. At the federal level, the legislature is bi-cameral, meaning that it consists of two bodies. Those two bodies are the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Speaker of the House is the leader of that legislative body. The President Pro Tempore is the leader of the Senate. At the state level, there may be the same general type of organization within the legislative branch.
You may be asking yourself, What do the above comments have to do with administrative rules or regulations? Although most administrative rules and regulations are set forth by administrative agencies within the executive branch, there may be administrative agencies within the judicial branch or the legislative branch that could set forth rules and regulations of their own.
The administrative agencies that most of us are probably familiar with are federal agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Justice, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture, and the Federal Communications Commission. Some of these federal agencies are cabinet-level agencies, meaning that the heads of those agencies are members of the President’s cabinet.
Others may be considered to be independent agencies. For instance, the Federal Election Commission is an independent agency that has the specific responsibility of overseeing compliance with the federal election laws by presidential candidates and other candidates at the national level. Another independent agency is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is charged with the responsibility of overseeing the use of nuclear power in the nonmilitary arena.
These agencies generally have the authority to issue regulations. These regulations in some instances may be referred to as rules. Although there is a technical distinction between a rule and a regulation, for purposes of this discussion they are treated as being one and the same. These administrative agencies are created by acts of Congress and are given a specific purpose as set forth in the U.S. Code. The agencies are also given the authority to write and publish rules and regulations that will govern its conduct.