Does the Sex Offender Notification and Registration Act’s (SONRA) delegation of authority to the U.S. Attorney General to issue regulations under 42 U.S.C. § 16913 violate the nondelegation doctrine?1
Under SONRA, sex offenders have to register in every state that “where the offender resides, where the offender is an employee, and where the offender is a student.” It’s a crime not to register. SONRA also gives the Attorney General the power to determine the applicability of SONRA to sex offenders who were convicted before SORNA passed in 2006.
This case presents the issue of whether the delegation of power to the Attorney General violates the non-delegation doctrine.
The non-delegation doctrine is the idea that one branch of the Government should not delegate their powers to another branch. A recent example is Clinton v. City of New York, where the Supreme Court struck down the line item veto. There, the Congress gave the President to veto individual appropriations items in appropriation bills.1
The Court actually struck down this law for reasons other than the non-delegation doctrine, but Kennedy in his concurrence endorsed the non-delegation doctrine as the reason for striking down the law. ↩