Lincoln v. Vigil, 508 U.S. 182, 8 (1993)

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

Opinion of the Court

Respondents, handicapped Indian children eligible to receive services through the Program, subsequently brought this action for declaratory and injunctive relief against petitioners, the Director of the Service and others (collectively, the Service), in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico. Respondents alleged, inter alia, that the Service's decision to discontinue direct clinical services violated the federal trust responsibility to Indians, the Snyder Act, the Improvement Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, various agency regulations, and the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause.

The District Court granted summary judgment for respondents. Vigil v. Rhoades, 746 F. Supp. 1471 (1990). The District Court held that the Service's decision to discontinue the Program was subject to judicial review, rejecting the argument that the Service's decision was "committed to agency discretion by law" under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U. S. C. 701(a)(2). 746 F. Supp., at 1479. The court declined on ripeness grounds, however, to address the merits of the Service's action. It held that the Service's decision to discontinue the Program amounted to the making of a "legislative rule" subject to the APA's notice-and-comment requirements, 5 U. S. C. 553, and that the termination was also subject to the APA's publication requirements for the adoption of "statements of general policy," 552(a)(1)(D). See 746 F. Supp., at 1480, 1483. Because the Service had not met these procedural requirements, the court concluded that the termination was procedurally invalid and that judicial review would be "premature." Id., at 1483. The court ordered the Service to reinstate the Program, id., at 1486-1487, and the Solicitor General has represented that a reinstated Program is now in place. Brief for Petitioners 9.

The Court of Appeals affirmed. Like the District Court, it rejected the Service's argument that the decision to discontinue the Program was committed to agency discretion

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