Thunder Basin Coal Co. v. Reich, 510 U.S. 200, 9 (1994)

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Opinion of the Court

823(d)(1), with possible Commission review.9 Only the Commission has authority actually to impose civil penalties proposed by the Secretary, 820(i), and the Commission reviews all proposed civil penalties de novo according to six criteria.10 The Commission may grant temporary relief pending review of most orders, 815(b)(2), and must expedite review where necessary, 815(d).

Mine operators may challenge adverse Commission decisions in the appropriate court of appeals, 816(a)(1), whose jurisdiction "shall be exclusive and its judgment and decree shall be final" except for possible Supreme Court review, ibid. The court of appeals must uphold findings of the Commission that are substantially supported by the record, ibid., but may grant temporary relief pending final determination of most proceedings, 816(2).

Although the statute establishes that the Commission and the courts of appeals have exclusive jurisdiction over challenges to agency enforcement proceedings, the Act is facially silent with respect to pre-enforcement claims. The structure of the Mine Act, however, demonstrates that Congress intended to preclude challenges such as the present one. The Act's comprehensive review process does not distinguish between pre-enforcement and postenforcement challenges,

9 30 U. S. C. 823(d)(2). The Commission exercises discretionary review over any case involving, among others, a "substantial question of law, policy or discretion," 823(d)(2)(A)(ii)(IV), and may review on its own initiative any decision "contrary to law or Commission policy" or in which "a novel question of policy has been presented," 823(d)(2)(B). Any ALJ decision not granted review by the Commission within 40 days becomes a "final decision of the Commission." 823(d)(1).

10 The statutory criteria are "the operator's history of previous violations, the appropriateness of such penalty to the size of the business of the operator charged, whether the operator was negligent, the effect on the operator's ability to continue in business, the gravity of the violation, and the demonstrated good faith of the person charged in attempting to achieve rapid compliance." 30 U. S. C. 820(i).

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