Darby v. Cisneros, 509 U.S. 137, 12 (1993)

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Opinion of the Court

tive) before resorting to the courts. In no case may appeal to 'superior agency authority' be required by rule unless the administrative decision meanwhile is inoperative, because otherwise the effect of such a requirement would be to subject the party to the agency action and to repetitious administrative process without recourse. There is a fundamental inconsistency in requiring a person to continue 'exhausting' administrative processes after administrative action has become, and while it remains, effective." S. Rep. No. 752, 79th Cong., 1st Sess., 27 (1945); Administrative Procedure Act: Legislative History 1944-1946, S. Doc. No. 248, 79th Cong., 2d Sess., 213 (1946) (hereinafter Leg. Hist.).

In a statement appended to a letter dated October 19, 1945, to the Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Tom C. Clark set forth his understanding of the effect of 10(c):

"This subsection states (subject to the provisions of section 10(a)) the acts which are reviewable under section 10. It is intended to state existing law. The last sentence makes it clear that the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies with respect to finality of agency action is intended to be applied only (1) where expressly required by statute . . . or (2) where the agency's rules require that decisions by subordinate officers must be appealed to superior agency authority before the decision may be regarded as final for purposes of judicial review." Id., at 44, Leg. Hist. 230.10

10 In his manual on the APA, prepared in 1947, to which we have given some deference, see, e. g., Steadman v. SEC, 450 U. S. 91, 103, n. 22 (1981); Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 435 U. S. 519, 546 (1978), Attorney General Clark reiterated the Department of Justice's view that 10(c) "embodies the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies. . . . Agency action which is finally operative and decisive is reviewable." Attorney General's Manual on the Administrative Procedure Act 103 (1947). See also H. R. Rep. No. 1980, 79th Cong., 2d Sess., 55, n. 21 (1946); Leg. Hist. 289, n. 21 (describing

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