United States v. Haggar Apparel Co., 526 U.S. 380, 3 (1999)

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tions were abroad) but also by determining some specifics of the policy (finding that painting, for example, is incidental to assembly), the statute is ambiguous nonetheless in that the agency must use its discretion to determine how best to implement the policy in those cases not covered by the statute's specific terms. Finally, contrary to respondent's contention, the historical practice in customs cases is not so uniform and clear as to convince the Court that judicial deference would thwart congressional intent. See, e. g., United States v. Vowell, 5 Cranch 368. Pp. 390-393.

2. If the regulation in question is a reasonable interpretation and implementation of an ambiguous statutory provision, it must be given judicial deference. Pp. 394-395.

(a) The customs regulations may not be disregarded. Application of the Chevron framework is the beginning of the legal analysis, and the Court of International Trade must, when appropriate, give regulations Chevron deference. Cf. Atlantic Mut. Ins. Co. v. Commissioner, 523 U. S. 382, 389. That court's expertise guides it in making complex determinations in a specialized area of the law; it is well positioned to evaluate customs regulations and their operation in light of the statutory mandate to determine if the preconditions for Chevron deference are present. P. 394.

(b) This Court declines to reach the question whether 19 CFR 10.16(c) meets the preconditions for Chevron deference as a reasonable interpretation of the statutory phrase "operations incidental to the assembly process." Because the Federal Circuit determined the Chevron framework was not applicable, it did not go on to consider whether the regulation ultimately warrants deference under that framework. Respondent's various arguments turning on the details and facts of its manufacturing process are best addressed in the first instance to the courts below. Pp. 394-395.

127 F. 3d 1460, vacated and remanded.

Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court with respect to Parts I, II, and III, and the opinion of the Court with respect to Part IV, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and O'Connor, Scalia, Souter, Thomas, and Breyer, JJ., joined. Stevens, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Ginsburg, J., joined, post, p. 395.

Kent L. Jones argued the cause for the United States. With him on the briefs were Solicitor General Waxman, Assistant Attorney General Hunger, Deputy Solicitor General Wallace, William Kanter, and Bruce G. Forrest.

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