Chevron Deference and Agency Self-Interest

85 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2004 Last revised: 15 Mar 2009

See all articles by Timothy K. Armstrong

Timothy K. Armstrong

University of Cincinnati College of Law


Judicial review of a federal administrative agency's statutory or regulatory interpretation ordinarily proceeds under the highly deferential framework announced in the landmark case of Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, 467 U.S. 837 (1984). Withholding an independent judicial interpretation of a statute or regulation in deference to an agency's views, however, poses unique problems when the agency has a self-interested stake in its interpretation - as, for example, when the agency's interpretation affects its regulatory jurisdiction or yields a financial benefit to the agency. A review of several cases in which courts have deferred, or refused to defer, to interpretations of law that implicated the self-interest of the issuing agency shows that the courts have not enunciated a consistent rationale to explain their divergent results. The article concludes that extending the Chevron deference principle to self-interested agency interpretations of law conflicts with settled norms of due process, and proposes an alternative analytical framework for judicial review of such interpretations.

Keywords: administrative law, Chevron, deference, Skidmore, statutory interpretation

JEL Classification: K23

Suggested Citation

Armstrong, Timothy K., Chevron Deference and Agency Self-Interest. Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 13, p. 203, Spring 2004, U of Cincinnati Public Law Research Paper No. 07-11, Available at SSRN:

Timothy K. Armstrong (Contact Author)

University of Cincinnati College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210040
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0040
United States

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