When the framers of the Constitution divided authority among the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government, they did not establish administrative agencies as a fourth branch. Nevertheless, today many governmental functions are performed by federal administrative agencies, which have an unclear relationship with the three traditional branches of government. Even executive branch administrative agencies at times have an uncertain relationship with the legislative and judicial branches.

Two recent cases under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, illustrate the current role of the judiciary in reviewing federal agency action.