Agency Coordination in Consumer Protection
30 Pages Posted: 31 May 2014 Last revised: 5 Jun 2014
Date Written: October 1, 2013
The federalization of consumer protection has created thorny issues of agency coordination. When multiple federal agencies interpret and enforce the same statute, should a single agency’s interpretation be accorded Chevron deference? Should it matter whether it is in synch, or at odds, with its fellow agencies? This Article explores two agency coordination strategies that point in opposite directions. The first, a balkanization strategy, attempts to overcome the overlapping agency jurisdiction problem by urging agencies to create separate, non-overlapping spheres of authority to thereby regain Chevron deference due the agency that reigns supreme. We can expect “agency self-help measures” that stake out respective turfs to emerge from this strategy. Courts have accepted the balkanization approach — carving out discrete fiefdoms from spheres of overlapping agency jurisdiction — and may accept it more readily as the jurisprudence after City of Arlington develops with regard to agency interpretations of jurisdiction.
The second (and more novel) strategy, a model of judicial review as agency coordinator, exploits (rather than constrains) overlapping agency jurisdiction. Under this model, when faced with an interpretation by an agency that operates in shared regulatory space, courts would solicit input from the other relevant agencies. And, to the extent that there is agreement among the different agencies, Chevron deference would be especially warranted (regardless of whether all of those agencies were parties before the court), in sharp contrast to certain courts’ blanket stance that Chevron deference is inappropriate when multiple agencies interpret the same statute.
Keywords: consumer protection, agency coordination, Chevron, City of Arlington, overlapping agencies
JEL Classification: K13, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation