United States v. Southwestern Cable Co.

United States V. Southwestern Cable Co.


United States v. Southwestern Cable Co.

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United States v. Southwestern Cable Co., 392 U.S. 157 (1968), is a case in the development of American administrative law.

Legal principle

The scope of authority held by an agency is determined by the agency's organic statute. Where Congress grants an agency the power to maintain and regulate an area guided by the "public interest, convenience, or necessity," such a grant of power can include the regulation of areas not explicitly contemplated by the organic statute, as long as they are within the scope of the purpose of the original statute. Where agency action is necessary to fulfill the agency's ultimate goal, the Court may not prohibit such action.

Note: The approach in this case takes a much more expansive approach than the earlier case of ICC v. Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway Co. which provided for more limited powers for administrative agencies. Specifically, ICC held that regulative powers must be expressly granted by statute and not implied, while NBC held that the issuance of regulations, though not expressly granted, are an acceptable way for the agency to fulfill its statutory obligations to serve the "public interest, convenience, or necessity."

Facts and procedural posture

The FCC established regulations over community antenna television (CATV, or "cable"), and issued an order on the basis of those new regulations. Southwestern Cable filed an action to review the order, arguing that the regulations were...
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