A typical Administrative Law course presents the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Florida East Coast Railway Co. as establishing the rule that statutory text quite close to the magic words, "on the record after opportunity for an agency hearing," is needed to trigger the Administrative Procedure Act's (APA) formal hearing requirements for a rulemaking. Florida East Coast Railway is a prime example of an underrated case because, even though the case is well known, its renown is a consequence only of its black letter rule about rulemaking procedures. Many scholars and practitioners do not appreciate the case for illuminating three important and fundamental principles of administrative law: the distinction between rulemaking and adjudication, the significance of the organic statute and the APA in determining the content of administrative law, and the interrelationship of the three branches of government in defining administrative law. In this last respect, Justice Rehnquist's opinion for the Court is a striking example of the significance and vagaries of statutory interpretation.

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2006


Notes/Citation Information

Administrative Law Review, Vol. 58, No. 4 (Fall 2006), pp. 1039-1051


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