Gray vs. Powell and the Scope of Review

In dissenting from the decision of the Supreme Court in a celebrated administrative-law case, Justice Jackson once declared: “I give up. Now I realize fully what Mark Twain meant when he said, ‘The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.’ ” It cannot be denied that the learned justice’s reaction is one which is often felt by students of Supreme Court jurisprudence. This has been particularly true of the field involved in the case which called forth Justice Jackson’s plaint–i.e., that of administrative law. American administrative lawyers have not infrequently had this same response to decisions of the highest tribunal.