Darby v. Cisneros, 509 U.S. 137, 10 (1993)

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146

DARBY v. CISNEROS

Opinion of the Court

In Bowen v. Massachusetts, 487 U. S. 879 (1988), we were concerned with whether relief available in the Claims Court was an "adequate remedy in a court" so as to preclude review in Federal District Court of a final agency action under the first sentence of 10(c). We concluded that "although the primary thrust of [ 10(c)] was to codify the exhaustion requirement," id., at 903, Congress intended by that provision simply to avoid duplicating previously established special statutory procedures for review of agency actions.

While some dicta in these cases might be claimed to lend support to respondents' interpretation of 10(c), the text of the APA leaves little doubt that petitioners are correct. Under 10(a) of the APA, "[a] person suffering legal wrong because of agency action, or adversely affected or aggrieved by agency action within the meaning of a relevant statute, is entitled to judicial review thereof." 5 U. S. C. 702 (emphasis added). Although 10(a) provides the general right to judicial review of agency actions under the APA, 10(c) establishes when such review is available. When an aggrieved party has exhausted all administrative remedies expressly prescribed by statute or agency rule, the agency action is "final for the purposes of this section" and therefore "subject to judicial review" under the first sentence. While federal courts may be free to apply, where appropriate, other prudential doctrines of judicial administration to limit the scope and timing of judicial review, 10(c), by its very terms, has limited the availability of the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies to that which the statute or rule clearly mandates.

The last sentence of 10(c) refers explicitly to "any form of reconsideration" and "an appeal to superior agency authority." Congress clearly was concerned with making the exhaustion requirement unambiguous so that aggrieved parties would know precisely what administrative steps were required before judicial review would be available. If courts were able to impose additional exhaustion requirements be-

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