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Publication Date

Winter 1996




Rutgers University




The so-called Chevron doctrine,' which requires reviewing courts to accept all reasonable agency interpretations of statutes that the agency administers,2 is one of the most important doctrines in modern federal administrative law. Under the now-familiar two-step formulation enunciated by the Chevron court, if Congress "has directly spoken to the precise question at issue ... , that is the end of the matter; for the court, as well as the agency, must give effect to the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress."3 If the statute is ambiguous, however, the court must accept any permissible, or reasonable,4 interpretation put forth by the agency.5 Observers of modern administrative law know that most of the action in Chevron cases is focused on step one. If the reviewing court finds the relevant statute ambiguous, the agency's interpretation is almost always upheld at step two, with little discussion by the court.

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