Supreme Court Restates Importance of Right to Judicial Review of Administrative Actions


On April 29, 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued another unanimous ruling holding that the right to judicial review is a fundamental tenet of administrative law. The case is Mach Mining, LLC, v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and involves the right to challenge the conciliation proceedings of the EEOC in employment discrimination matters. Reversing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the Court ruled that “the strong presumption favoring judicial review of administrative action” applies to the informal conciliation procedures used by the Commission in attempting to resolve these disputes, and accordingly rejected the holding of the appeals court that the statutory directive in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to attempt conciliation is not subject to judicial review. The Supreme Court concluded its opinion by stating that, “Judicial review of administrative action is the norm in our legal system, and nothing in Title VII withdraws the courts’ authority to determine whether the EEOC has fulfilled its duty to attempt conciliation of claims”.

The Supreme Court confronted a similar challenge a few years ago when it delivered an opinion in the case of Sackett v. EPA, 132 S.Ct. 1367 (2012), in which it decided that an EPA Clean Water Act administrative compliance order is an enforcement action that can be subject to judicial review in the federal courts, and it may well choose to decide whether the important jurisdictional determinations the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers makes under its Clean Water Act authority are also subject to judicial review.