Citizens to Pres. Overton Park, Inc. v. Volpe

401 U.S. 402, 91 S. Ct. 814 (1971)



Section 706(2)(A) of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C.S. § 706(2)(A), requires a finding that the actual choice made by the Secretary was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law. To make this finding the court must consider whether the decision was based on a consideration of the relevant factors and whether there has been a clear error of judgment. 


Private citizens and conservation organizations, claimed that respondent Secretary of Transportation violated § 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 and § 18(a) of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968 by authorizing expenditure of federal funds for construction of an interstate highway through a public park. Petitioners argued, that the Secretary's action was invalid without formal factual findings and that he failed to make an independent determination but merely relied on the judgment of a local city council. In evidence of the independence of and basis for his decision-making, respondent introduced litigation affidavits at trial. Petitioners offered rebuttal affidavits. The district court granted summary judgment for respondent, and the court of appeals affirmed.


Did the Secretary of Transportation required to make formal factual findings?




On certiorari, the Court reversed and remanded to the district court, holding that respondent was not required to make formal findings, but judicial review based solely on litigation affidavits was inadequate under § 706 of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C.S. § 706, which required an agency's "whole record" as the basis for review.

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