Auer deference

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Auer deference refers to a rule in administrative law that interpretive rules by federal agencies should have the force of law because an agency’s interpretation of its own regulations are to be respected. This principle was established by Auer v. Robbins, 519 U. S. 452 (1997), and Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co., 325 U. S. 410 (1945).

There are important exceptions to Auer deference, including:

  • a reviewing court should still ultimately decide whether a given regulation means what the agency says.
  • Auer deference is inappropriate “when the agency’s interpretation is plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation” or “when there is reason to suspect that the agency’s interpretation does not reflect the agency’s fair and considered judgment.” Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 132 S. Ct. 2156, 183 L. Ed. 2d 153, 169 (2012) (internal quotation marks omitted)
  • “[A]n agency’s interpretation of a ... regulation that conflicts with a prior interpretation is entitled to considerably less deference than a consistently held agency view.” Thomas Jefferson Univ. v. Shalala, 512 U. S. 504, 515, 114 S. Ct. 2381, 129 L. Ed. 2d 405 (1994) (internal quotation marks omitted).

See generally Perez v. Mortg. Bankers Ass'n, 135 S. Ct. 1199, 1208 n.4 (2015).