Christensen v. Harris County, 529 U.S. 576, 16 (2000)

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Cite as: 529 U. S. 576 (2000)

Opinion of Scalia, J.

Drug Administration's "longstanding interpretation of the statute," reflected in no-action notice published in the Federal Register).

In my view, therefore, the position that the county's action in this case was unlawful unless permitted by the terms of an agreement with the sheriff's department employees warrants Chevron deference if it represents the authoritative view of the Department of Labor. The fact that it appears in a single opinion letter signed by the Acting Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division might not alone persuade me that it occupies that status. But the Solicitor General of the United States, appearing as an amicus in this action, has filed a brief, cosigned by the Solicitor of Labor, which represents the position set forth in the opinion letter to be the position of the Secretary of Labor. That alone, even without existence of the opinion letter, would in my view entitle the position to Chevron deference. What we said in a case involving an agency's interpretation of its own regulations applies equally, in my view, to an agency's interpretation of its governing statute:

"Petitioners complain that the Secretary's interpretation comes to us in the form of a legal brief; but that does not, in the circumstances of this case, make it unworthy of deference. The Secretary's position is in no sense a 'post hoc rationalizatio[n]' advanced by an agency seeking to defend past agency action against attack, Bowen v. Georgetown Univ. Hospital, 488 U. S. 204, 212 (1988). There is simply no reason to suspect that the interpretation does not reflect the agency's fair and considered judgment on the matter in question." Auer v. Robbins, 519 U. S. 452, 462 (1997).

I nonetheless join the judgment of the Court because, for the reasons set forth in Part II of its opinion, the Secretary's position does not seem to me a reasonable interpretation of the statute.


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