In the case of Motor Vehicles Manufacturer's Ass'n v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. (463 U.S. 29 (1983)), the Department of Transportation had issued a rule (DOT Standard 208) saying that all cars must have airbags or passive restraints. Later, under the Reagan administration, the new Secretary of Transportation decided that the rule was unnecessary and rescinded it.
  • The US Supreme Court blocked the rescission of the rule. The Court found that while an Agency has the authority to reconsider its policies, they must articulate a plausible reason for rescission.
    • "An Agency's view of what is in the public interest may change, either with our without a change in circumstances. But an Agency changing its course must supply a reasoned analysis."
  • This case helped the Hard Look Doctrine, which says that when conducting judicial reviews, courts must conduct a substantial inquiry and determine whether:
    • The Secretary acted within the scope of his authority.
    • His decision was within the small range of available choices.
    • He could have reasonably believed that there were no feasible alternatives.
    • The actual choice was not "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law."
    • He followed the necessary procedural requirements.
  • It's not the court that takes the hard look, it just makes sure that the Agency has taken a hard look at the issues.
    • See Administrative Procedures Act 706 for guidance on what the courts can and cannot review.