Willamette Law Online

United States Supreme Court Certiorari Granted


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Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association; Nickols v. Mortgage Bankers Association

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: June 16, 2014
Case #: 13-1041; 13-1052
720 F.3d 966 (D.C. Cir. 2013)
Full Text Opinion: http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/FAC3D9E1235DEC2185257B9C004F3742/$file/12-5246-1444670.pdf

Administrative Law: Whether agencies must submit significant changes to a definitive agency interpretation to the public under the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Petitioner Perez withdrew a previously-issued Labor Department opinion letter, reversing agency interpretation of a rule on overtime wages. Respondent brought suit against Petitioner claiming the opinion letter withdrawal violates the D.C. Circuit’s Paralyzed Veterans doctrine. The Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) exempts agency interpretations from the public notice and opportunity to comment requirement the APA imposes on agency rulemaking. However, the Paralyzed Veterans doctrine states that when an agency makes significant changes to a definitive interpretation of a rule, the agency must comply with the APA requirement to provide public notice and opportunity for comment as the changes are de facto rule changes. Petitioner-Intervenor Nickols intervened in the litigation as a party subject to the rule and directly affected by the litigation’s outcome.

The district court granted summary judgment for Respondent under the Paralyzed Veterans doctrine. The D.C. Circuit affirmed the district court, focusing instead on the district court’s interpretation of when agency interpretations are “definitive.”  Petitioner and Petitioner-Intervenor sought a grant of certiorari to resolve the question of whether the Paralyzed Veterans doctrine exceeds the language of the APA. The grant of certiorari consolidated the two petitions, and has allotted one hour of oral arguments on the petitions.