The rapid development of administrative law during this century has meant a multiplication of administrative tribunals. The functions of these bodies vary widely. Some have regulatory powers, others only fact-finding authority. The Interstate Commerce Commission may fix rates; the Tariff Commission may only investigate differences in costs of production.
In all such cases, however, there is fundamentally the same motivation behind their creation. The complexity, technicality, constant fluctuations, and expanding scope of the problems that confront Congress have compelled it to devolve some of its authority upon other bodies, and in some cases to set up agencies for the collection of data as a basis for decision. These very same factors have made our traditional trial courts unsuitable agencies for the exercise of powers thus devolved, and politically controlled bureaus unfit for the investigation of politically significant facts. Congress, therefore, has set up specialized bodies, which are to be manned by experts in particular fields, supplied with elaborate means of research, and authorized to act upon the best obtainable information and opinion. The purpose is thus clearly to cause scientific methods and expert judgment to be brought to bear to the maximum extent possible.
It is submitted that for this purpose to be carried out—for the duties of these tribunals to be performed under the influence of the “judicial habit of thought”—it is essential that the members be guaranteed independence in the exercise of their personal judgment, uninfluenced by direct pressure from political superiors or special interests. And it is a matter of common experience that independence of tenure is a prerequisite of independence of judgment.