Jurisdiction of Federal Courts of Appeal for Review of Administrative Decisions

The federal courts of appeal have exclusive jurisdiction to review all final rules, regulations and orders of an administrative agency.  However, courts of appeal lacks jurisdiction to review those orders as to which Congress has denied judicial review.[i]

The jurisdiction of the courts of appeals to review orders rendered by administrative agencies is wholly dependent upon statute.[ii] The courts look into the language of a statute, its purpose and its legislative history, to ascertain jurisdiction of the courts.[iii]

The jurisdiction of the courts of appeal to review administrative orders is exclusive, when a statute provides for such jurisdiction.[iv] Exclusive jurisdiction promotes judicial economy and fairness to the litigants by taking advantage of that expertise.  Similarly, exclusive jurisdiction eliminates duplicative and potentially conflicting review and the delay and expense incidental thereto.[v]

When a statute commits review of agency action to the court of appeals, any suit seeking relief that might affect the circuit court’s future jurisdiction is subject to the exclusive review of the court of appeals.[vi]

When a petition for review of an administrative action is filed in a court and the court finds that the court lacks jurisdiction, the court should, if it is in the interest of justice, transfer the petition to any other court in which the petition could have been brought at the time it was filed.[vii] The action will proceed as if it had been filed in the court to which it is transferred on the date on which it was actually filed in the court from which it is transferred.

In Lepre v. DOL, Emple. Compensation Appeals Bd., 275 F.3d 59 (D.C. Cir. 2001), the court held that subject to constitutional constraints, Congress can make exceptions to historic practice whereby courts review agency action.  The court observed that “the presumption of judicial review is, after all, a presumption, and like all presumptions used in interpreting statutes, may be overcome by, inter alia, specific language or specific legislative history that is a reliable indicator of congressional intent, or a specific congressional intent to preclude judicial review that is fairly discernible in the detail of the legislative scheme.”

[i] Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co. v. Burford, 721 F. Supp. 355 (D.D.C. 1989)

[ii] Noland v. United States Civil Service Com., 544 F.2d 333, 334 (8th Cir. 1976)

[iii] AMERICAN FEDN. OF LABOR v. NLRB, 308 U.S. 401 (U.S. 1940)

[iv] Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. United States DOL, 174 F.3d 206 (D.C. Cir. 1999)

[v] George Kabeller, Inc. v. Busey, 1992 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21691 (N.D. Ga. June 24, 1992)

[vi] Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co. v. Burford, 721 F. Supp. 355 (D.D.C. 1989)

[vii] 28 USCS § 1631


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