Christensen v. Harris County, 529 U.S. 576, 15 (2000)

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Opinion of Scalia, J.

involved an interpretive regulation, the rationale of the case was not limited to that context: " 'The power of an administrative agency to administer a congressionally created . . . program necessarily requires the formulation of policy and the making of rules to fill any gap left, implicitly or explicitly, by Congress.' " Id., at 843, quoting Morton v. Ruiz, 415 U. S. 199, 231 (1974). Quite appropriately, therefore, we have accorded Chevron deference not only to agency regulations, but to authoritative agency positions set forth in a variety of other formats. See, e. g., INS v. Aguirre-Aguirre, 526 U. S. 415, 425 (1999) (adjudication); NationsBank of N. C., N. A. v. Variable Annuity Life Ins. Co., 513 U. S. 251, 256-257 (1995) (letter of Comptroller of the Currency); Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation v. LTV Corp., 496 U. S. 633, 647-648 (1990) (decision by Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. to restore pension benefit plan); Young v. Community Nutrition Institute, 476 U. S. 974, 978-979 (1986) (Food and

type deference can be inapplicable for only three reasons: (1) the statute is unambiguous, so there is no room for administrative interpretation; (2) no interpretation has been made by personnel of the agency responsible for administering the statute; or (3) the interpretation made by such personnel was not authoritative, in the sense that it does not represent the official position of the expert agency. All of these reasons preclude Skidmore deference as well. The specific example of the inapplicability of Chevron that Justice Breyer posits, viz., "where one has doubt that Congress actually intended to delegate interpretive authority to the agency," post, at 597, appears to assume that, after finding a statute to be ambiguous, we must ask in addition, before we can invoke Chevron deference, whether Congress intended the ambiguity to be resolved by the administering agency. That is not so. Chevron establishes a presumption that ambiguities are to be resolved (within the bounds of reasonable interpretation) by the administering agency. The implausibility of Congress's leaving a highly significant issue unaddressed (and thus "delegating" its resolution to the administering agency) is assuredly one of the factors to be considered in determining whether there is ambiguity, see MCI Telecommunications Corp. v. American Telephone & Telegraph Co., 512 U. S. 218, 231 (1994), but once ambiguity is established the consequences of Chevron attach.

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