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Is the Question of Deference Only an Administrative Law Issue?

Professor Gary Lawson posits that the issue of deference is not relevant only in administrative or even law generally. Anytime there is a decision to be made by any type of organization, people have to consider whether to incorporate or defer to previous decisions. When courts have to consider previous administrative agency decisions, there is nothing unique about that part of the decision making process. https://youtube.com/watch?v=IBp32FUl0aw


One of the major questions in administrative law is the extent to which courts, when they're reviewing administrative agency decisions, should be deferring or giving weight to the decision of the agency. Should the court just decide the issues in whatever way the court thinks is best or should the court be looking to see whether the agency satisfies some minimal standard of reasonableness and letting the agency go as long as that standard is met? This is the battleground on which a lot of the major doctrinal issues are fought. It turns out to be something not at all unique to administrative law or even to law at all. Any kind of organization whether it's a government, a business, even a family, is likely to have a layered process of decision making. Decisions are made, then the decision gets reconsidered or examined at another level. Whenever you have that kind of layered process, it's always important to ask at any given level, "What relevance is it that someone else has already considered that question?" That's the issue. If it matters at all that someone else has already considered that question, then you're dealing with a regime of deference. Some measure of weight, however large, however small, being given to the fact that someone else has already thought about and considered this problem. So what the courts are faced with when their reviewing agency decisions is nothing special. This is a universal feature of human affairs.

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