Posts Tagged ‘administrative law’

Awaiting a Supreme Court nominee

The White House has indicated that President Trump will announce a nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy Monday evening. Jonathan Adler breaks it all down at Volokh Conspiracy as does David Lat in a series of posts (sample: feeder judge Brett Kavanaugh “sends clerks to almost all the justices, on both sides of the aisle.”) Other resources while we wait:

  • Factually rich cheat sheet with links to writings and opinions of judges thought to be on the list [TIFIS]
  • The New Civil Liberties Alliance has evaluated the likely picks on the basis of their posture toward the powers of the administrative state. Chris Walker at the Yale Journal on Regulation examines related issues of their views on administrative law. And the Institute for Free Speech on records on free expression;
  • Judge Raymond Kethledge’s concurrence in the Cathedral Buffet case, with observations about government scrutiny of religious beliefs and the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause, is getting some attention. I wrote it up at the time here and at Cato at Liberty;
  • Hmm. “[Amy Coney] Barrett defended the Supreme Court’s current approach in cases dealing with economic regulation, in which the scales are tipped in favor of lawmakers via the highly permissive standard of judicial review known as the rational-basis test.” [Damon Root, Reason]
  • Ilya Shapiro has some kind things to say about another Sixth Circuit judge on many shortlists, Amul Thapar. What got my attention as a confirmed legal formalist is that Judge Thapar threw a case out of court for being one cent short of federal jurisdiction. As I argued way back in The Litigation Explosion, bright-line rules are generally a good thing and jurisdiction, especially, should not be subject to rules of close-enough. This recent Michigan Law Review piece by Judge Thapar and Benjamin Beaton, reviewing a new book by Judge Richard Posner has more on the virtues of formalism and is eminently worth reading;
  • Highlights of Kevin Cope’s ideological scoring of the judges for the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage: likely picks other than Thapar are clustered closely together, all less conservative than Justice Alito’s Third Circuit record when he was picked; Thapar gets a more moderate rating but his tenure as an appeals judge has been very brief. Note also that Merrick Garland, much promoted as centrist two years back, scores well to the left of the pre-appointment records of Ruth Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.
  • You can listen to me briefly discussing the possibilities on the Hartford-area Ray Dunaway show here.

Keeping an overdue appointment with the Appointments Clause

Caleb Brown interviews Trevor Burrus and me for the Cato Daily Podcast on Lucia v. SEC, Thursday’s Supreme Court case on the Appointments Clause and administrative law. Crossing to join with the conservatives, Justice Elena Kagan wrote a narrowly tailored opinion invalidating the method by which the Securities and Exchange Commission had appointed its five administrative law judges at the time of the dispute (it has since fixed its appointment method). The majority opinion carefully sidesteps the issue of how ALJs may properly be removed; Justice Breyer, who largely concurred with the result on separate grounds, explored some of those issues in his opinion. See also Ilya Shapiro on June 21 as “government structure day” at the Supreme Court, and with more on the merits. Related: Federalist Society forum on Michael Rappaport proposal for replacement of ALJs with Article III judges.

Supreme Court roundup

  • After oral argument, case challenging agencies’ use of in-house administrative law judges (Lucia v. SEC) remains hard to predict [Ilya Shapiro, Cato; earlier]
  • In dissent from cert denial: “Justices Thomas and Gorsuch Argue for Rejecting Deference to Agency Interpretation of Agency Regulations” [Eugene Volokh, Ilya Shapiro and Matthew Larosiere on Garco Construction, Inc. v. Speer]
  • High court still gun shy [Trevor Burrus and Matthew Larosiere on refusal to review Maryland felon gun possession ban] Ninth Circuit ruling on zoning exclusion of firearms business deserves cert review [Shapiro and Larosiere on Teixeira v. Alameda County] Court denies cert in widely watched Defense Distributed First Amendment case on dissemination of plans for 3-D printed weapon [Smith Pachter, earlier] A historical look: “The American Indian foundation of American gun culture” [David Kopel]
  • “The Supreme Court’s grant of a Contracts Clause case for the first time in a quarter-century reminds me that a certain John G. Roberts wrote a student note on the Clause back in 1978 (available at 92 Harv. L. Rev. 86).” [Aditya Bamzai on Twitter]
  • University of Chicago Law Review special issue on Justice Scalia [Will Baude; other recent Scalia scholarship includes articles on his influence in implied rights of action and standing]
  • Case on cert petition before SCOTUS could clarify law on distribution of property after church schisms [Samuel Bray on Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina v. Episcopal Church]

Finally, rules to rein in agency guidance documents

Agencies use informal guidance documents in lieu of formal regulation to clarify and interpret uncertainties in existing law and enforcement. Unfortunately, this and other forms of “subregulatory guidance” can also offer a tempting way to extend an agency’s power and authority into new areas, or ban private actions that hadn’t been banned before, all without going through the notice and comment process required by regulation, with its protections for regulated parties. Fair? Lawful? The Department of Justice under Jeff Sessions has lately sought to bring agency use of guidance documents under better control, and in particular end the use of documents that 1) are obsolete, 2) improperly use the process to circumvent the need for formal regulation, or 3) improperly go beyond what is provided for in existing legal authority. I’m interviewed about all this by Caleb Brown for the Cato Daily Podcast.

More: Charlie Savage, New York Times (DoJ revokes batch of guidance documents), Matt Zapotosky/Washington Post; Scott Shackford, Reason (rescission of guidance letter on local fines and fees should be read not as blessing those practices as okay, but as reflecting fact that federal government lacks clear statutory or constitutional mandate to intervene against them); Stephen McConnell, Drug and Device Law (“DOJ Says its Litigators May Not Use Noncompliance with FDA Guidances as Basis for Civil Enforcement Actions”).

Administrative law roundup

Banking and finance roundup

November 22 roundup

November 15 roundup

Time to revisit the Chevron stretch

A case called Digital Realty Trust v. Somers gives the Supreme Court a chance to rein in a particularly inappropriate use of the Chevron doctrine, under which courts give deference to agencies’ interpretations of law [Ilya Shapiro, Harvard Law Review blog]

The last few years have of course seen renewed attention — academic, judicial, and journalistic — to the question of whether courts have become altogether too deferential to executive agencies. While Chevron deference (and its cousins, Auer and Seminole Rock deference) was originally justified as a necessary tool for preventing courts from unduly meddling in administrative decisionmaking, hasn’t the pendulum swung too far?…

As the Supreme Court explained in Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. v. Coke in 2007, the APA [Administrative Procedure Act] requires an agency conducting notice-and-comment rulemaking to provide the public with “fair notice” of what will be, or might be, included in its final regulation. Yet there was nothing in the [Securities and Exchange Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking] that would have given any notice to the public that it was going to change whom Dodd-Frank would protect from retaliation.

Just last year, the Court reaffirmed in Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro that procedurally deficient rules that violate the APA do not receive Chevron deference because they lack the “force of law.” The SEC regulation here was procedurally deficient because of the final rule’s fair-notice problem, so it shouldn’t qualify for Chevron.

More on the Somers case and Cato’s amicus brief: Trevor Burrus and Frank Garrison.

September 20 roundup

  • Relatively funny, clever, and pleasant nastygram, as nastygrams go, on Netflix “Stranger Things” pop-up [BGR]
  • “Taser: Can’t say our weapons killed somebody unless the autopsy says so. Also Taser: If the autopsy blames our weapon, we might sue you.” [@bradheath on Jason Szep, Tim Reid, and Peter Eisler Reuters investigation]
  • Fourth Circuit asked to overturn forfeiture of antiquarian coins seized under “cultural patrimony” law [Peter Tompa, Antique Coin Collectors Guild]
  • Videos from April conference at Scalia/George Mason on due process and the administrative state: Neomi Rao, Philip Hamburger, Gary Lawson, Ronald Cass, Jonathan Adler, Hon. Doug Ginsburg, and many other stars;
  • Nice try, censorship fans: study from Stanton Glantz et al. tries to link teen smoking to movie depictions of smoking, resulting in epic fail [Brad Rodu]
  • Facebook weeds out a million accounts a day, some in error. Takedown laws will lift false positive rate [Mike Masnick]