It is a striking feature of the legislative process that Congress is neither required to articulate reasons for its actions nor subject to constitutional challenge merely on the ground that its choices are uninformed. The Constitution contains a variety of procedural rules for enacting legislation. It also requires that statutes conform to a number of substantive requirements. But Congress has traditionally enjoyed wide latitude in deciding whether and to what extent it bases decisions on policy-relevant knowledge or articulates the factual foundations for its actions. Until recently, even when evaluating statutes under close judicial scrutiny, the Supreme Court has tended to defer to Congress' special competence as the fact-finding branch of the federal government Such deference recognizes the significant fact-finding value inherent in Congress' ability to conduct hearings and investigations, to subpoena witnesses and documents, and to assign to legislative committees and staff responsibility for detailed scrutiny of legislative proposals, their factual foundations and their suitability as responses to social policy concerns. It also recognizes that the variety of backgrounds and interests among legislators enables them to draw upon a wide knowledge of social and economic conditions. In addition, the tradition of judicial deference respects the democratically elect- ed legislature as the primary source of statutory law.
Muriel M. Spence,
What Congress Knows and Sometimes Doesn't Know,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
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