Abstract: Setting the Caged Bird Free: Restoring Judicial Power to Meaningfully Review Administrative Interpretations of the Law

Rachel HollandVolume 50 Articles Editor

Volume 49, Book 4

American administrative law has long struggled to strike the proper balance between agency discretion and judicial oversight. Few topics better illustrate this struggle than the controversy surrounding Chevron deference to administrative interpretations of law. Although proponents believe the doctrine promotes uniformity of interpretation and proper deference to superior agency subject-matter expertise, in execution it results in judicial confusion and infringement upon judicial power. Courts are unsure how to choose and correctly apply the appropriate standard of review, and this confusion has in turn spread uncertainty among litigants.

This Comment explores the judicial deference issue in several stages.  First, it describes the federal agency system and the current state of judicial deference to agency interpretations. Second, it illustrates the confusion created by the current state of the law with an exploration of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act circuit split surrounding the meaning of the word “take” and a discussion regarding the vulnerability of Texas industries within this precarious environment.  Finally, this Comment recommends that the Supreme Court clarify and extend its holding in King v. Burwell to create a better-defined exception to Chevron deference in cases that deeply affect important state interests and industries.