Darby v. Cisneros, 509 U.S. 137, 13 (1993)

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

Opinion of the Court

Respondents place great weight on the Attorney General's statement that 10(c) "is intended to state existing law." That law, according to respondents, "plainly permitted federal courts to require exhaustion of adequate administrative remedies." Brief for Respondents 19-20. We cannot agree with this categorical pronouncement. With respect to the exhaustion of motions for administrative reconsideration or rehearing, the trend in pre-APA cases was in the opposite direction. In Vandalia R. Co. v. Public Serv. Comm'n of Ind., 242 U. S. 255 (1916), for example, this Court invoked the "general rule" that "one aggrieved by the rulings of such an administrative tribunal may not complain that the Constitution of the United States has been violated if he has not availed himself of the remedies prescribed by the state law for a rectification of such rulings." Id., at 261. The state law provided only that the Railroad Commission had the authority to grant a rehearing; it did not require that a rehearing be sought. Nevertheless, "since the record shows that plaintiff in error and its associates were accorded a rehearing upon the very question of modification, but abandoned it, nothing more need be said upon that point." Ibid.

Seven years later, in Prendergast v. New York Telephone Co., 262 U. S. 43, 48 (1923), without even mentioning the Vandalia case, the Court stated:

"It was not necessary that the Company should apply to the Commission for a rehearing before resorting to the court. While under the Public Service Commission Law any person interested in an order of the Commission has the right to apply for a rehearing, the Commission is not required to grant such rehearing unless in its judgment sufficient reasons therefor appear . . . . As the law does not require an application for a rehearing

agency's authority to adopt rules requiring a party to take a timely appeal to the agency prior to seeking judicial review as "an application of the time-honored doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies").


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