A law is passed whereby all reasonable efforts are to be made to reserve the effects of contamination of all U.S. Water systems. The President, acting through the Attorney General, forms the Water Contamination Control Agency (aka Agency) that immediately bans the discharge of any toxins into U.S. waters. Furthermore, the agency also imposes a system of fines, whereby any violation of these new laws will result in an automatic $10,000 fine. Sam is happily motoring on the same lake in which he has been motoring for years. However, one of his spark plugs becomes fouled just as a storm is approaching. In an effort to get to safety in time, Sam runs his engine faster than usual, and he increased load on it, coupled with the fouled spark plug, created an excessive amount of black smoke that is noticed by Dan, an inspector who is employed by (aka) Agency. When the inspector sees the smoke settle on the water, and a sheen develops, he writes Sam a citation that includes a $10,000 fine. Sam doesn’t understand the significance of any of this and comes for an explanation.
Sam like anyone else, who is not aware of a new agency, imposing rules and regulations, has to be surprised upon being served with a citation that carries a fine. As a result, Sam and his likes need to be explained circumstances under which such citation originates, in accordance with U.S. practice, which creates such agencies and bodies. He should also be advised on whether such regulations or rules are binding to the citizens (Koch, 1997).
Sam should know that government agencies whether organized under the executive branch, judicial or legislative branches of government are empowered to make rules, adjudicate or enforce specific regulatory aspects. In the present case therefore he should understand that the Water Contamination Control Agency, being a creature of government has the authority to make rules such as the present one that seeks to ban the discharge of toxins into U.S waters. He should also note that the agency’s action, of prescribing a fine is in line with the mandates of government agencies of enforcement, and adjudication. As he seems not to be aware of the existence of a separate body of law referred to an administrative law that governs the conduct of administrative agencies, it is vital to acknowledge that these agencies are delegated power by Congress, to act as agents for the executive (Koch, 1997).
I would also inform Sam of the importance of such agencies since they are created to protect the public interest, rather than to infringe private rights. I would show or exhibit to him that his present action of releasing an excessive amount of smoke, which consequently leads to water pollution too is against the public interest, hence actionable. Therefore, he should weigh the potential damages his action presents without seeing the same to be an act of vindication of his rights.
However, Sam is entitled to know if the inspector’s action or the rules of the agency are within the parameters of the constitution (Koch, 1997). U.S constitution states that congress shall have the power “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers and all other powers…in any department or officer thereof” (US Constitution Article 1 Section 8). This language is construed to encourage the creation of administrative agencies such as the present one.
Sam should understand that Administrative agency rules and regulations have the force of law against citizens. This is so because these agencies are created and run by elected officials or the president. In addition, these agencies’ involvement of the public in their rule-making process is seen to reflect the wishes of the people, thus Sam’s interest can not override those of the public (Koch, 1997). On the other hand, the above setting portrays that by proxy the agencies to be the wishes of the electorates.
In addition, Sam should also be informed about the Latin maxim “Ignorantia Juris no excuse or by ‘ignorantia legis neminem excusat’ which literally means that ignorance of law offers no defense. Thus whereas he did not know the existence of this law he can not rely on this fact as a defense, hence it is only important that he pays the fine accordingly (Koch, 1997).
Could Sam find that the action of this agency to have affected him, he can seek the intervention of a court for review? However, this agency can nevertheless file a motion dismissing the claim and asserting the lack of applicability of review in its decisions.
Where review is possible the court will consider the nature of the agency, its action, how its action affected Sam, and finally the type of relief entitled to Sam. Moreover, Sam should show the action of the agency to be arbitrary and capricious. He should be able to demonstrate that the decision was not supported by any important evidence or that the agency acted ultra vires, in bias, or in violation of the due process.
Koch, Charles H, (1997) Administrative Law and Practice. St. Paul: West.