Today, Drakes Bay Oyster Company filed its petition for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the federal government’s decision to shut down the oyster farm is immune from judicial review.
The petition raises a fundamental question that strikes at the heart of the administrative state: exactly how often are federal agencies immune from judicial review of their decisions? The Administrative Procedure Act authorizes review in federal courts of federal agency decisions when they are arbitrary, capricious, abusive of the agency’s discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law. But many courts across the nation have held that they have no jurisdiction to review agency decisions unless Congress specifically provides statutory guidelines for the exercise of agency discretion. This legal perspective boils down to the proposition that Congress can (and frequently does) delegate unlimited power to executive agencies to make permitting and other regulatory decisions for any reason or no reason, subject to no substantive or even procedural safeguards for citizens and their liberty and property.
Fortunately, many other federal courts have ruled the opposite: that courts can and must review whether discretionary agency actions are arbitrary, capricious, abusive, or otherwise contrary to law. The oyster farm’s petition to the Supreme Court clearly identifies the scope of this ongoing conflict within the federal courts of appeals, making this a very good opportunity for the Supreme Court to resolve this fundamental question of executive accountability and availability of judicial review.
You can learn more about the oyster farm’s fight for justice from our video
Or listen to our January 15 podcast.