Throughout the 1900s, state legislatures and the U.S. Congress increasingly created governmental agencies to administer the law. As society became more complicated by population growth, urbanization, industrialization, and the rapid expansion of interstate commerce, people turned to government to do something to regulate the ill effects of these major changes. Agencies were created by the legislative branches to address specific societal concerns.
These agencies were authorized by legislative branches to promulgate rules, which furthered the broad goals of the more general laws that they proscribed in creating each agency. As a very basic and wholly incomplete example, in 1970 the EPA was created by Congress to “Establish and Enforce Environmental Standards.” The EPA, like other administrative agencies, carries out its legislative charge by creating laws called regulations. It is responsible for enforcing those regulations and the laws of Congress which “Establish and Enforce Environmental Standards.”
Although governmental agencies are most commonly organized under the executive branch of government, many scholars have noted that agencies contain elements of all branches of government. Like legislatures, they create laws by issuing regulations. Like the judiciary branch, they adjudicate people’s rights under the laws they administer. Like the executive branch, they enforce the laws through their ability to deprive people governmentally derived benefits and entitlements, such as possessing a license to trade stocks, to practice medicine, or to sell insurance products.