Brief of Professor Aditya Bamzai as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioners, PDR Network et al. v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, Inc.
43 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2019
Date Written: March 18, 2019
This amicus brief explains why a federal district court’s interpretation of a statute does not ordinarily “determine the validity” of an agency regulation that embraces a contrary interpretation under the Administrative Orders Review Act of 1950 (the “Hobbs Act”), 28 U.S.C. § 2342. The Hobbs Act splits the jurisdiction of federal courts to address certain legal questions in certain federal cases. It vests “exclusive jurisdiction” in the courts of appeals to perform a set of specified actions, with review obtainable within a 60-day time period and with regard to certain orders and regulations. But the Act leaves district courts to take any other actions — specifically, any actions not specified in the Hobbs Act’s text — in the ordinary course of the district court’s functions.
As explained in the brief, by splitting federal court jurisdiction in this manner, the Hobbs Act raises questions of constitutional structure and statutory meaning. First, as to constitutional structure: The Supreme Court addressed the constitutionality of such a “jurisdiction-splitting” provision in Yakus v. United States, 321 U.S. 414 (1944), where it held that the “exclusive jurisdiction” provisions of the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942 complied with due process and Article III. Although Yakus is a controversial precedent, the brief argues that the Court can decide this case based on a faithful construction of the Hobbs Act. Second, as to statutory meaning: The precise boundary between matters reviewable only directly and those reviewable in collateral proceedings is specified by the Hobbs Act’s statutory terms. The courts of appeals have “exclusive jurisdiction” to “enjoin, set aside, suspend (in whole or in part), or [ ] determine the validity” of certain specified orders. When a district court merely disagrees with an interpretation expressed in an agency’s regulation, it does not take any of the four actions specified by the Hobbs Act. Congress borrowed the terms used in the Hobbs Act — “enjoin,” “set aside,” “suspend,” and “determine the validity” — from preexisting statutory schemes governing judicial review of agency action. The brief canvasses these preexisting statutory schemes, primarily the Urgent Deficiencies Act of 1913 and the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942. Based on these precedents, the brief concludes that a court “determines the validity of” a regulation if, and only if, a violation of the regulation is necessarily a part of the elements of the crime or civil cause of action at issue in the case.
Keywords: federal courts, administrative law, chevron, hobbs act, administrative orders review act, yakus, emergency price control act, urgent deficiencies act, telecommunications, fcc, federal communications commission
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