Darby v. Cisneros, 509 U.S. 137, 8 (1993)

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Opinion of the Court

Respondents contend that 10(c) is concerned solely with timing, that is, when agency actions become "final," and that Congress had no intention to interfere with the courts' ability to impose conditions on the timing of their exercise of jurisdiction to review final agency actions. Respondents concede that petitioners' claim is "final" under 10(c), for neither the National Housing Act nor applicable HUD regulations require that a litigant pursue further administrative appeals prior to seeking judicial review. However, even though nothing in 10(c) precludes judicial review of petitioners' claim, respondents argue that federal courts remain free under the APA to impose appropriate exhaustion requirements.9

We have recognized that the judicial doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies is conceptually distinct from the doctrine of finality:

"[T]he finality requirement is concerned with whether the initial decisionmaker has arrived at a definitive position on the issue that inflicts an actual, concrete injury; the exhaustion requirement generally refers to administrative and judicial procedures by which an injured party may seek review of an adverse decision and obtain a remedy if the decision is found to be unlawful or otherwise inappropriate." Williamson County Regional Planning Comm'n v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U. S. 172, 193 (1985).

Whether courts are free to impose an exhaustion requirement as a matter of judicial discretion depends, at least in part, on whether Congress has provided otherwise, for "[o]f

9 Respondents also have argued that under HUD regulations, petitioners' debarment remains "inoperative" pending review by the Secretary. See 48 Fed. Reg. 43304 (1983). But this fact alone is insufficient under 10(c) to mandate exhaustion prior to judicial review, for the agency also must require such exhaustion by rule. Respondents concede that HUD imposes no such exhaustion requirement. Brief for Respondents 31.

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