Lincoln v. Vigil, 508 U.S. 182, 10 (1993)

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

Opinion of the Court

to agency discretion by law." 3 As we explained in Heckler v. Chaney, 470 U. S. 821, 830 (1985), 701(a)(2) makes it clear that "review is not to be had" in those rare circumstances where the relevant statute "is drawn so that a court would have no meaningful standard against which to judge the agency's exercise of discretion." See also Webster v. Doe, 486 U. S. 592, 599-600 (1988); Citizens to Preserve Overton Park, Inc. v. Volpe, 401 U. S. 402, 410 (1971). "In such a case, the statute ('law') can be taken to have 'committed' the decisionmaking to the agency's judgment absolutely." Heck-ler, supra, at 830.

Over the years, we have read 701(a)(2) to preclude judicial review of certain categories of administrative decisions that courts traditionally have regarded as "committed to agency discretion." See Franklin v. Massachusetts, 505 U. S. 788, 817 (1992) (Stevens, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment); Webster, supra, at 609 (Scalia, J., dissenting). In Heckler itself, we held an agency's decision not to institute enforcement proceedings to be presumptively unreviewable under 701(a)(2). 470 U. S., at 831. An agency's "decision not to enforce often involves a complicated balancing of a number of factors which are peculiarly within its expertise," ibid., and for this and other good reasons, we concluded, "such a decision has traditionally been 'committed to agency discretion,' " id., at 832. Similarly, in ICC v. Locomotive Engineers, 482 U. S. 270, 282 (1987), we held that 701(a)(2) precludes judicial review of another type of administrative decision traditionally left to agency discretion, an agency's refusal to grant reconsideration of an action because of material error. In so holding, we emphasized "the impossibility of devising an adequate standard of review for such

3 In full, 701(a) provides: "This chapter [relating to judicial review] applies, according to the provisions thereof, except to the extent that— (1) statutes preclude judicial review; or (2) agency action is committed to agency discretion by law." The parties have not addressed, and we have no occasion to consider, the application of 701(a)(1) in this case.


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