In this essay, Pierce and Weiss report the results of a study of judicial review of agency interpretations of agency rules. Prior studies found that, while courts at all levels uphold about 70% of agency actions, the Supreme Court upholds 91% of agency interpretations of agency rules. Pierce and Weiss find that lower courts do not confer this type of super deference on agency interpretations of agency rules. District courts and circuit courts uphold 76% of such agency actions. That is within the range of the findings of prior studies of judicial review of other types of agency actions and much lower than the rate at which the Supreme Court upholds agency interpretations of agency rules. Pierce and Weiss also find no evidence that judges are influenced by their political or ideological preferences when they review agency interpretations of agency rules. That finding is consistent with the findings of a prior study of judicial review of agency findings of fact, but it is inconsistent with the findings of several studies of judicial review of agency interpretations of agency-administered statutes and of judicial review of agency policy decisions.
GW Paper Series
GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 523; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 523
Richard J. Pierce Jr. & Joshua A. Weiss, An Empirical Study of Judicial Review of Agency Interpretations of Agency Rules, Admin. L. Rev. (Forthcoming).