As the Supreme Court’s new term begins, it will be considering several cases that could have a significant impact on cases involving the Administrative Procedure Act and other federal regulatory litigation. What follows is a summary of last term’s APA-related decisions followed by a preview of two cases currently on the Court’s docket for the new term that similarly may affect APA cases and other federal regulatory litigation. The decisions discussed below from last term address issues of statutory interpretation, deference to agency action and decision-making, timeliness of claims against the government, and the legitimacy of conduct by quasi-governmental corporations. The Court’s rulings in these cases are relevant to a broad range of disputes with federal and state agencies. The same is likely to be true of the decisions slated for this term in the cases previewed at the end of this Advisory.
In three decisions involving statutory interpretation, the Court made clear that the plain meaning of terms can sometimes give way to contextual factors that require a different meaning, and also that there are limits to the deference that courts must give agency interpretations. Collectively these decisions provide ammunition for advocates seeking either to stretch, or limit, the reach of statutory provisions.