Lincoln v. Vigil, 508 U.S. 182, 12 (1993)

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

Opinion of the Court

propriations cannot be equated with statutes enacted by Congress"). Put another way, a lump-sum appropriation reflects a congressional recognition that an agency must be allowed "flexibility to shift . . . funds within a particular . . . appropriation account so that" the agency "can make necessary adjustments for 'unforeseen developments' " and " 'changing requirements.' " LTV Aerospace Corp., supra, at 318 (citation omitted).

Like the decision against instituting enforcement proceedings, then, an agency's allocation of funds from a lump-sum appropriation requires "a complicated balancing of a number of factors which are peculiarly within its expertise": whether its "resources are best spent" on one program or another; whether it "is likely to succeed" in fulfilling its statutory mandate; whether a particular program "best fits the agency's overall policies"; and, "indeed, whether the agency has enough resources" to fund a program "at all." Heckler, 470 U. S., at 831. As in Heckler, so here, the "agency is far better equipped than the courts to deal with the many variables involved in the proper ordering of its priorities." Id., at 831-832. Of course, an agency is not free simply to disregard statutory responsibilities: Congress may always circumscribe agency discretion to allocate resources by putting restrictions in the operative statutes (though not, as we have seen, just in the legislative history). See id., at 833. And, of course, we hardly need to note that an agency's decision to ignore congressional expectations may expose it to grave political consequences. But as long as the agency allocates funds from a lump-sum appropriation to meet permissible statutory objectives, 701(a)(2) gives the courts no leave to intrude. "[T]o [that] extent," the decision to allocate funds "is committed to agency discretion by law." 701(a)(2).

The Service's decision to discontinue the Program is accordingly unreviewable under 701(a)(2). As the Court of Appeals recognized, the appropriations Acts for the relevant


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