Darby v. Cisneros, 509 U.S. 137, 15 (1993)

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

Opinion of the Court

judicial review would be available.11 It recognized that the relevant statute "points out a mode of procedure which must be followed before there can be a resort to the courts," id., at 167, and that a party must go through "the preliminary sifting process provided by the statutes," id., at 170. Accord, Chicago, M., St. P. & P. R. Co. v. Risty, 276 U. S. 567, 574-575 (1928).12

Nothing in this pre-APA history, however, supports respondents' argument that initial decisions that were "final" for purposes of judicial review were nonetheless unreviewable unless and until an administrative appeal was taken. The pre-APA cases concerning judicial review of federal agency action stand for the simple proposition that, until an administrative appeal was taken, the agency action was unreviewable because it was not yet "final." This is hardly surprising, given the fact that few, if any, administrative agencies authorized hearing officers to make final agency decisions prior to the enactment of the APA. See Federal Administrative Law Developments—1971, 1972 Duke L. J. 115, 295, n. 22 ("[P]rior to the passage of the APA, the existing agencies ordinarily lacked the authority to make binding de-11 The Act of August 18, 1894, 28 Stat. 390, provided: "In every case where an alien is excluded from admission into the United States under any law or treaty now existing or hereafter made, the decision of the appropriate immigration or customs officers, if adverse to the admission of such alien, shall be final, unless reversed on appeal to the Secretary of [Commerce and Labor]."

12 In an address to the American Bar Association in 1940, Dean Stason of the University of Michigan Law School summarized the law on exhaustion of administrative appeals: "In the event that a statute setting up an administrative tribunal also creates one or more appellate administrative tribunals, it is almost invariably held that a party who is aggrieved by action of the initial agency must first seek relief by recourse to the appellate agency or agencies." Stason, Timing of Judicial Redress from Erroneous Administrative Action, 25 Minn. L. Rev. 560, 570 (1941). See also 4 K. Davis, Administrative Law Treatise 26.12, p. 469 (2d ed. 1983) ("The pre-1946 law was established that an appeal to higher administrative authorities was a prerequisite to judicial review").


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