& State Farm Essay, Research Paper

The State Farm case deals with the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration s (NHTSA) actions dealing with Standard 208. Secretary Brock Adams issued a new mandatory passive restraint regulation in the late 1970 s, which included the phasing in of passive restraints in large cars by 1982 and all cars by 1984. Manufacturers had the choice of passive system to include either airbags or automatic seatbelts. the Court of Appeals upheld Modified Standard 208 as a rational, nonarbitrary regulation consistent with the agency s mandate under the Act (593). It also went through Congress and was not vetoed. NHTSA read written comments and held public hearings before they issued Notice 25, which rescinded the passive restraint regulation in Standard 208. The Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association (MVMA) believed that the rescission of an agency rule is the same as agency inaction. The Supreme Court rejected that view on grounds that the agency may be reversing its view on the correct way to handle the situation. an agency must be given ample latitude to adapt their rules and policies to the demands of changing circumstances (595). This decision by the justices does not end the case, but allow them to show that an agency may change its mind. The court states that its view is very narrow under the arbitrary and capricious standard. They cannot substitute their judgement for the agencies. The court had to decide if the rescission of Modified Standard 208 was arbitrary and capricious. In the opinion of Justice White, there were three main areas where NHTSA failed to do the right thing. First, NHTSA didn t consider modifying Standard 208 to require airbags. They revoked their standard because of the small percentage of improvement they gauged from automatic seatbelts. NHTSA never considered changing the standard to just require airbags. Airbags were proven in 1977 to be, effective and cost-beneficial life-saving technology (597). No explanation was given for not requiring airbags, they did not review the entire standard before choosing to get rid of it. Second, the agency dismissed the safety benefits of automatic seatbelts too quickly. NHTSA only predicted a 5% increase in the level of usage, but the Court of Appeals said that there was no evidence that less than a 13% increase would be seen. The court decided that this must be left to the experience of the agency because they can interpret the data better. Third, no basis was made for not requiring non-detachable automatic seatbelts. They grouped it with other devices that were scratched, so they never considered it by itself to see if it would be effective. The Supreme Court vacated the judgement of the Court of Appeals, remanded the case back to them so they could direct NHTSA to reconsider consistent with the court s opinion. They did this because the agency s views had changed, but no good basis for the change was given. The agency failed to supply a reasoned analysis on why they acted in the manner they did, and what events brought the need for change. Justice White does give the agencies some credit and did not decide anything on the empirical evidence but left it to the agency because they are the experts. At the same time, for changing their rule without complete analysis of the situation and options, they acted arbitrary and were wrong.

The Chevron case had to do with the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977. The requirements that were applicable to the States who had not achieved the National air quality standards established by the EPA. These required the States to establish a permit program regulating the new or modified major stationary stationary sources (614) of air pollution. The EPA allowed plant-wide definition of stationary sources. The question they faced was if the polluting devices were allowed to be in a group, would that be a reasonable interpretation of a stationary source. The Supreme Court noted the Clean Air Act Amendments, does not explicitly define what Congress envisioned as a stationary source, to which the permit program should apply (615). The legislative history showed no mention about grouping as a bubble. The Supreme Court reversed the Appeals Court s basis on contradictions between them. The Court of Appeals was wrong because Congress didn t define it. It wasn t the Court s right to interpret it the gaps were left open for the agency to define. Since the intent of Congress is not clear, the court should not put their own spin on it but to decide if the agency s views had a basis on permissible construction of the statute. The Court of Appeals misunderstood their role in reviewing the regulations at issue. Congress did not have a specific intention on the applicability of the bubble concept in these cases, (617). They concluded that the EPA s concept was a reasonable policy for the gaps. They gave the EPA broad discretion with the intent to enlarge the agencies power. The Supreme Court sees the flexibility in the definitions, and the EPA puts forth a reasonable explanation of what their regulation s benefit. They also not that because they are judges they are not experts in the field so they defer to the agency. The cases are very consistent. If the agencies go by the standards and have proof of why they chose to do the things they did. In State Farm the Agency had rescinned Section 208 without having reason to do so. They did not investigate the situation and have a backed up conclusion. In Chevron, they had proof of the benefits from their actions. Their proof and investigation allowed everyone to see what was good about their decisions so the Court favored them. One company goes the right way and wins, the other goes the wrong way and looses. Both based on the way they should handle things.


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