Article II, Section 2, Clause 2:
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
It has never been questioned that the Constitution distinguishes between the creation of an office and appointment thereto. The former is by law and takes place by virtue of Congress’s power to pass all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers which the Constitution confers upon the government of the United States and its departments and officers.1 As an incident to the establishment of an office, Congress has also the power to determine the qualifications of the officer and in so doing necessarily limits the range of choice of the appointing power. First and last, it has laid down a great variety of qualifications, depending on citizenship, residence, professional attainments, occupational experience, age, race, property, sound habits, and so on. It has required that appointees be representative of a political party, of an industry, of a geographic region, or of a particular branch of the Government. It has confined the President’s selection to a small number of persons to be named by others.2 Indeed, it has contrived at times to designate a definite eligibility, thereby virtually usurping the appointing power.3 Despite the record of the past, however, it is not at all clear that Congress may cabin the President’s discretion, at least for offices that he considers important, by, for example, requiring him to choose from lists compiled by others. To be sure, there are examples, but they are not free of ambiguity.4
But when Congress contrived actually to participate in the appointment and administrative process and provided for selection of the members of the Federal Election Commission, two by the President, two by the Senate, and two by the House, with confirmation of all six members vested in both the House and the Senate, the Court unanimously held the scheme to violate the Appointments Clause and the principle of separation of powers. The term
officers of the United States is a substantive one requiring that any appointee exercising significant authority pursuant to the laws of the United States be appointed in the manner prescribed by the Appointments Clause.5 The Court did hold, however, that the Commission so appointed and confirmed could be delegated the powers Congress itself could exercise, that is, those investigative and informative functions that congressional committees carry out were properly vested in this body.