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Do the rules issued by executive departments have the full weight of law?

Updated on February 24, 2015

This is an interesting question to say the least and one which we and government must understand. Executive departments especially at the federal government level are constantly creating or revising the rules they have in place for their respective departments. Each department has responsibilities which they must fulfill according to the legislation they are entrusted to enforce. Part of this is accomplished through regulations and part through the rules they create.

There are rules everywhere we go and to some extent in everything we do. At work we have rules or policies we must follow and they govern how the organization we work for functions. The same is true in sports. Rules and are in place to establish some responsibilities which those who play must honor as in the use of drugs. The point to make is the rules in these instances only apply to the organizations which have created them.

Before going further we must look at some definitions involving what a rule is which are provided below:

“one of a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct within a particular activity or sphere.”

From Merriam-Webster

a statement that tells you what is or is not allowed in a particular game, situation, etc.

: a statement that tells you what is allowed or what will happen within a particular system (such as a language or science)

: a piece of advice about the best way to do something

a principle or regulation governing conduct, action, procedure, arrangement, etc.:

the rules of chess.


the code of regulations observed by a religious order or congregation: the Franciscan rule.

the customary or normal circumstance, occurrence, manner, practice, quality, etc.:

the rule rather than the exception.

The rules of executive departments and agencies in Washington and perhaps other places are to be questioned by the American people and those we have elected to represent us. In the next couple of days the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will make a historic decision, one which will have far reaching impact on our use of the Internet as it is today. The Internet is a unique technological entity and is available all over the world. It is a technology which is not owned by any one individual or country and attempts to restrict the use by citizens of a country such as the United States as in the upcoming vote to be taken by the FCC. Some say it is about making the Internet more open while others have indicated it will invoke more control.

In a bit of turn of events there now appears to be some dissension over the proposed changes on the commission who after looking at the content are scrambling to make some changes in the changes to be voted upon ahead of the vote on Thursday February 26, 2014. It is hoped that the Internet will essentially be left untouched. The Internet has essentially been running functionally without much of an issue but like anything else when government gets involved with something there are usually negative impacts. This committee must look out for all citizens and not worry or attempt to put into play policy of any President. I agree the members of this committee have a tough job associated with their responsibilities and the decisions they make should benefit all consumers who now use the Internet.

While this article has essentially been about the current issue of the Internet and the FCC the principle focus are the rules generated by executive department levels and their agencies. As identified in the definitions provided above rules are essentially applied to the organizations/entities that create them. Rules and regulations do have the impact of law if they reflect specific requirements in legislation to which they are entrusted. Governmental rules are more of guidance than they are law. One way to identify whether a rule has the full weight of law is the connection if any they have to laws passed. If they have no such connection the question this article answers is they do not have the full weight of law.


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