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decided that the rule was unnecessary and rescinded it.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
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
He followed the necessary
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.
Procedures Act §706 for guidance on
what the courts can and cannot review.