Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. NRDC is one of the most famous cases in administrative law, but it was not regarded that way when it was decided. To the justices who heard the case, Chevron was a controversy about the validity of the "bubble" concept under the Clean Air Act, not about the standard of review of agency interpretations of statutes. Drawing on Justice Blackmun's papers, Professor Merrill shows that the Court was initially closely divided, but Justice Stevens' opinion won them over, with no one paying much attention to his innovations in the formulation of the standard of review or his invocation of Presidential oversight as a reason to regard agencies as more appropriate interpreters than courts. Chevron was almost instantly seized upon as a major decision by the D.C. Circuit, however, and after establishing itself as a leading case there, it migrated back to the Supreme Court, where it eventually came to be regarded as a landmark decision by the Court that rendered it. The Story of Chevron raises interesting questions about the role of accidents and self-interested promotion in the making of great cases, as well as about how judicial mutations have shaped the development of administrative law.
Thomas W. Merrill,
The Story of Chevron: The Making of an Accidental Landmark,
Admin. L. Rev.
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