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In ABA v. FTC, 430 F.3d 457 (D.C. Cir. 2005), the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected an attempt by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to regulate the legal profession under Chevron deference. The Court strengthen principles of federalism in its decision.

The Court held that:[1]

It is undisputed that the regulation of the practice of law is traditionally the province of the states. Federal law ‘may not be interpreted to reach into areas of State sovereignty unless the language of the federal law compels the intrusion.’

The Court concluded:[2]

The states have regulated the practice of law throughout the history of the country; the federal government has not. This is not to conclude that the federal government could not do so. We simply conclude that it is not reasonable for an agency to decide that Congress has chosen such a course of action in language that is, even charitably viewed, at most ambiguous.


  1. 430 F.3d at 471 (quoting City of Abilene v. FCC 164 F.3d 49, 52 D.C. Cir. 1999).
  2. 430 F.3d at 472