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Breaking Free of Chevron's Constraints: Zuni Public School District et al. v. U.S. Department of Justice


Osamudia R. James


University of Miami School of Law


Kansas Law Review, Fall 2007
Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1042

Abstract:     
Breaking Free of Chevron's Constraints: Zuni Public School District 89, et al. v. U.S. Department of Education analyzes the Supreme Court's latest review of an administrative interpretation under Chevron review, and concludes that the doctrine's exclusive focus on deciding "who gets to decide" led to a complete failure by the Court to consider the consequences of the agency interpretation at issue. Such a failure rendered the Court unprepared to accurately determine whether the agency interpretation was "permissible" under the second prong of Chevron review. As a solution, the article advocates for the replacement of Chevron's second prong with the more consequence-oriented arbitrary and capricious review. Although such a replacement limits agency discretion, it serves Chevron's underlying goal of ensuring that agency actions reflect Congressional intent.

In light of the Court's recent administrative law decisions clarifying the parameters of Chevron review, the Zuni case offers an opportunity to consider the outer limits of the review doctrine and its accompanying deference. The article uses a case that highlights the intersection between administrative law and public education to further the debate about those parameters, and to present a situation in which decreased agency deference is particularly appropriate. Finally, the article draws attention not only to the necessity of a more rigorous review when the provision of adequate public education is at stake, but to the broader implications of a review schema that is overly deferential to agency action

Number of Pages in PDF File: 56

Keywords: education policy, administrative law, Chevron Review

JEL Classification: I22, K23

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Date posted: April 12, 2007  

Suggested Citation

James, Osamudia R., Breaking Free of Chevron's Constraints: Zuni Public School District et al. v. U.S. Department of Justice. Kansas Law Review, Fall 2007; Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1042. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=979744

Contact Information

Osamudia R. James (Contact Author)
University of Miami School of Law ( email )
1311 Miller Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States
305.284.5837 (Phone)
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