Dunlop v. Bachowski
421 U.S. 560 (1975)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Dunlop v. Bachowski, 421 U.S. 560 (1975)

Dunlop v. Bachowski

No. 74-466

Argued April 21, 1975

Decided June 2, 1975

421 U.S. 560

Syllabus

After being defeated for office by the incumbent in a union election, and after exhausting his union remedies, respondent candidate (hereafter respondent) filed a complaint with petitioner, the Secretary of Labor, alleging violations of § 401 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA) and thus invoking § 402(b) of the Act, which requires the Secretary to investigate the complaint and decide whether to bring a civil action to set aside the election. The Secretary, upon investigation, decided that such an action was not warranted, and so advised respondent, who then filed an action to have the Secretary's decision declared arbitrary and capricious and to order him to file suit to set aside the election. The District Court dismissed the action on the ground that it lacked "authority" to afford the relief sought. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that the District Court had jurisdiction of the action under 28 U.S.C. § 1337 as a case arising under an Act of Congress regulating commerce (the LMRDA); that the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. §§ 702, 704, subjected the Secretary's decision to judicial review as "final agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in a court"; that his decision was not agency action pursuant to "statutes [that] preclude judicial review; or . . . agency action [that] is committed to agency discretion by law," excepted by 5 U.S.C. § 701(a) from judicial review; and that the scope of judicial review -- governed by 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A) "to ensure that the Secretary's actions are not arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion" -- entitled respondent

"to a sufficiently specific statement of the factors upon which the Secretary relied in reaching his decision . . . so that [respondent] may have information concerning the allegations contained in his complaint."

Held: While 28 U.S.C. § 1337 confers jurisdiction upon the District Court to entertain respondent's suit, and the Secretary's decision against suit is not excepted from judicial review by 5 U.S.C. § 701(a), but, by virtue of

Page 421 U. S. 561

§§ 702 and 704, is reviewable under the standard specified in § 706(2)(A), the Court of Appeals erred insofar as it construed § 706(2)(A) to authorize the District Court to allow respondent a trial-type inquiry into the factual bases for the Secretary's decision. Pp. 421 U. S. 566-577.

(a) Absent an express prohibition in the LMRDA against judicial review of the Secretary's decision, the Secretary bears the heavy burden of overcoming the strong presumption that Congress did not mean to prohibit all judicial review of his decision, a presumption that the Secretary failed to overcome in this case. P. 421 U. S. 567.

(b) However, a congressional purpose narrowly to limit the scope of judicial review of the Secretary's decision must be inferred in order to fulfill the statutory objectives. P. 421 U. S. 568.

(c) Since the LMRDA relies upon the Secretary's knowledge and discretion in determining both the probable violation and the probable effect of a violation on the election's outcome, the reviewing court is not authorized to substitute its judgment for the Secretary's decision not to bring suit, but, to enable the court intelligently to review the Secretary's determination, the Secretary must provide the court and the complaining union member with a statement of the supporting reasons. Pp. 421 U. S. 568-572.

(d) The reviewing court should confine itself to examining the reasons statement and determining whether the statement, without more, shows that the Secretary's decision is so irrational as to be arbitrary and capricious, and the court's review may not extend to an adversary trial of a complaining union member's challenges to the factual bases for the Secretary's decision. Pp. 421 U. S. 572-574.

(e) If the District Court determines that the Secretary's reasons statement adequately demonstrates that his decision against suit is not contrary to law, the complaining union member's suit fails, and should be dismissed, whereas, if the District Court determines that the statement, on its face, compels the conclusion that the Secretary's decision not to sue is so irrational as to be arbitrary and capricious, it is assumed that the Secretary would proceed appropriately without the coercion of a court order. Pp. 421 U. S. 574-576.

502 F.2d 79, reversed and remanded.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and DOUGLAS, STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and

Page 421 U. S. 562

POWELL, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 421 U. S. 590. REHNQUIST, J., filed an opinion concurring in the result in part and dissenting in part, post, p. 421 U. S. 591.

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