Friday, April 19, 2019

Draft of Article on Interpretive Regulations (4/19/19)

I post here for download my article titled "The Report of the Death of the Interpretive Regulation Is an Exaggeration."  Here is a summary of the article:
In this article, I discuss the claim of the demise of the APA category of interpretive tax regulations for APA purposes, a claim that, when extended, is that there are no longer any interpretive regulations for any agencies for APA purposes.  Instead, so the claim goes, the regulations that have historically been considered interpretive because all they do is reasonably interpret ambiguous statutory text, are now legislative regulations under the APA.  My understanding is that the claim has considerable traction in the academic community. 
By contrast, in the recent oral argument in Kisor v. Wilkie (Sup. Ct. No. 18-15), transcript p. 10, here), Justice Breyer, an administrative law scholar (taught administrative law at Harvard Law School), said “there are hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of interpretive regulations.” 
So which is it?  Are there interpretive regulations as a legitimate APA category? 
I claim that, as the title suggests, interpretive regulations are a viable APA category.  I argue that: (i) the APA original public meaning of the interpretive regulation category remains viable; (ii) there have been no material developments after enactment of the APA (including American Mining Congress and Chevron) that changed the original public meaning; (iii) in particular, the concept of deference (both pre- and post-Chevron) never had any role in the APA distinction between legislative and interpretive regulations; (iv) deference (currently in its Chevron iteration) applies to legislative regulations only in determining the scope of the delegation of legislative authority (an interpretive exercise) and has no application to the arbitrary or capricious / State Farm, a different test for procedural regularity (including failure to make reasoned decisionmaking, by extreme example stating a basis for the interpretation that the moon is made of green cheese); and (v) that other distractions along the way are not relevant to the APA’s distinction between legislative and interpretive regulations. 
To be sure, I suppose that Congress could have framed the APA so that all regulations were treated and tested as legislative regulations.  That is not the choice Congress made.  My claim is that, regardless of one’s interpretive bent or judicial philosophy, Congress’ clearly expressed intent in the original public meaning of the legislative / interpretive distinction should control. 
The article is a revision of a draft of the article that I presented in conjunction with a panel discussion on Altera and the intersection of tax law and administrative law at the Virginia Tax Study Group on April 12.

I hope that some readers will download the article, read it, and offer me their comments.  I plan on posting the article to SSRN in the near future, but would like comments before doing so.  Please offer any comments whether as to substance, presentation, grammar, etc.

The title of the article takes off from the famous quote (much misquoted) from Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) that  “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”  See Wikiquotes entry on Mark Twain, here.