Judicial Review of License Denials

Under administrative law, the reviewability of an order must be determined by reference to its practical function and consequences.[i] In the context of judicial review of an agency action, substantial evidence is a relevant evidence to support a conclusion.[ii]

A court can reverse the decision of an agency if there is substantial evidence to support that decision.[iii] Therefore, in order to prove an absence of substantial evidence, appellant must show that fair minded persons failed to reach the same conclusion.[iv]

In Commission’s Investigation of the Rates for Gas Serv. of PNM’s Gas Serv. v. New Mexico Puc, 128 N.M. 747 (N.M. 2000), the court observed that while determining whether substantial evidence supports the decision in the context of judicial review of administrative agency decisions, the court must be satisfied that the evidence demonstrates the reasonableness of the decision.  The reviewing court needs to find the credibility of evidence and it must be sufficient for a reasonable mind to accept as adequate to support the conclusion reached by the agency.

In Bankers Life & Casualty Co. v. Callaway, 530 F.2d 625 (5th Cir. Fla. 1976), the court established a method for analyzing cases in which the timeliness of judicial review poses a problem.  The court must find out whether congress intended to preclude pre enforcement review of the agency action at issue.  If the statute does not preclude review, then the court must consider whether the controversy is ripe for judicial resolution.

While reviewing a decision of an agency, a court must first determine whether:[v]

  • The actions of an agency are in violation of constitutional or statutory provisions,
  • The actions of an agency are in excess of statutory authority of the agency,
  • The actions of an agency are affected by other error of law.

In City of Fremont v. FERC, 336 F.3d 910 (9th Cir. Cal. 2003), the court observed that an appellate court does not have any jurisdiction to review agency orders if such review will infringe the statutory role of the agency.

[i] City of Fremont v. FERC, 336 F.3d 910 (9th Cir. Cal. 2003)

[ii] Rajan v. Principi, 90 Fed. Appx. 262 (9th Cir. Nev. 2004)

[iii] Mid-South Rd. Builders v. Arkansas Contrs. Licensing Bd., 328 Ark. 630 (Ark. 1997)

[iv] Bohannon v. Arkansas State Bd. of Nursing, 320 Ark. 169 (Ark. 1995)

[v] Save Ourselves, Inc. v. Louisiana Environmental Control Com., 452 So. 2d 1152 (La. 1984)


Inside Judicial Review of License Denials