Darby v. Cisneros, 509 U.S. 137, 9 (1993)

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Cite as: 509 U. S. 137 (1993)

Opinion of the Court

'paramount importance' to any exhaustion inquiry is congressional intent," McCarthy v. Madigan, 503 U. S. 140, 144 (1992), quoting Patsy v. Board of Regents of Florida, 457 U. S. 496, 501 (1982). We therefore must consider whether 10(c), by providing the conditions under which agency action becomes "final for the purposes of" judicial review, limits the authority of courts to impose additional exhaustion requirements as a prerequisite to judicial review.

It perhaps is surprising that it has taken over 45 years since the passage of the APA for this Court definitively to address this question. Professor Davis noted in 1958 that 10(c) had been almost completely ignored in judicial opinions, see 3 K. Davis, Administrative Law Treatise 20.08, p. 101 (1958); he reiterated that observation 25 years later, noting that the "provision is relevant in hundreds of cases and is customarily overlooked." 4 K. Davis, Administrative Law Treatise 26.12, pp. 468-469 (2d ed. 1983). Only a handful of opinions in the Courts of Appeals have considered the effect of 10(c) on the general exhaustion doctrine. See n. 8, supra.

This Court has had occasion, however, to consider 10(c)

in other contexts. For example, in ICC v. Locomotive Engineers, 482 U. S. 270 (1987), we recognized that the plain language of 10(c), which provides that an agency action is final "whether or not there has been presented or determined an application" for any form of reconsideration, could be read to suggest that the agency action is final regardless whether a motion for reconsideration has been filed. We noted, however, that 10(c) "has long been construed by this and other courts merely to relieve parties from the requirement of petitioning for rehearing before seeking judicial review (unless, of course, specifically required to do so by statute—see, e. g., 15 U. S. C. 717r, 3416(a)), but not to prevent petitions for reconsideration that are actually filed from rendering the orders under reconsideration nonfinal" (emphasis in original). Id., at 284-285.

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