Lincoln v. Vigil, 508 U.S. 182, 2 (1993)

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next

Cite as: 508 U. S. 182 (1993)


1. The Service's decision to discontinue the Program was "committed to agency discretion by law" and therefore not subject to judicial review under 701(a)(2). Pp. 190-195. (a) Section 701(a)(2) precludes review of certain categories of administrative decisions that courts traditionally have regarded as "committed to agency discretion." The allocation of funds from a lump-sum appropriation is such a decision. It is a fundamental principle of appropriations law that where Congress merely appropriates lump-sum amounts without statutory restriction, a clear inference may be drawn that it does not intend to impose legally binding restrictions, and indicia in committee reports and other legislative history as to how the funds should, or are expected to, be spent do not establish any legal requirements on the agency. As long as the agency allocates the funds to meet permissible statutory objectives, courts may not intrude under 701(a)(2). Pp. 190-193. (b) The decision to terminate the Program was committed to the Service's discretion. The appropriations Acts do not mention the Program, and both the Snyder and Improvement Acts speak only in general terms about Indian health. The Service's representations to Congress about the Program's operation do not translate through the medium of legislative history into legally binding obligations, and reallocating resources to assist handicapped Indian children nationwide clearly falls within the Service's statutory mandate. In addition, whatever its contours, the special trust relationship existing between Indian people and the Federal Government cannot limit the Service's discretion to reorder its priorities from serving a subgroup of beneficiaries to serving the class of all Indians nationwide. Pp. 193-195. (c) Respondents' argument that the Program's termination violated their due process rights is left for the Court of Appeals to address on remand. While the APA contemplates that judicial review will be available for colorable constitutional claims absent a clear expression of contrary congressional intent, the record at this stage does not allow mature consideration of constitutional issues. P. 195. 2. The Service was not required to abide by 553's notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures before terminating the Program, even assuming that the statement terminating the Program would qualify as a "rule" within the meaning of the APA. Termination of the Program might be seen as affecting the Service's organization, but 553(b)(A) exempts "rules of agency organization" from notice-and-comment requirements. Moreover, 553(b)(A) exempts "general statements of policy," and, whatever else that term may cover, it surely includes an-



Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007