Statutory Interpretation, Administrative Deference, and the Law of Stare Decisis
81 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2019 Last revised: 16 Jan 2019
Date Written: January 9, 2019
This Article examines three facets of the relationship between statutory interpretation and the law of stare decisis: judicial interpretation, administrative interpretation, and interpretive methodology. In analyzing these issues, I emphasize the role of stare decisis in pursuing balance between past and present. That role admits of no distinction between statutory and constitutional decisions, calling into question the practice of giving superstrong deference to judicial interpretations of statutes. The pursuit of balance also suggests that one Supreme Court cannot bind future Justices to a wide-ranging interpretive methodology. As for rules requiring deference to administrative interpretations of statutes and regulations, they are articulated at high levels of generality, cut across numerous contexts, and dictate the inferences that future Justices must draw from congressional and administrative ambiguity. Taken in combination, these factors give rise to a strong argument that deference regimes like the Chevron and Auer doctrines fall outside the bounds of stare decisis.
Keywords: precedent, stare decisis, statutory interpretation, administrative law, chevron, supreme court
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