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Friday, June 25, 2010

Deference: Court the Final Authority to Interpret

Interpreting ANILCA is our responsibility. As Chief Justice Marshall observed: "It is emphatically the province and the duty of the judicial department to say what the law is." Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 177 (1803) . We should not abdicate this responsibility by deferring to the agency's interpretation of ANILCA. Even if deference to the agency's interpretation of ANILCA were appropriate, we could not endorse as reasonable an interpretation that ignores congressional purpose and focuses myopically on the term "title." The agency's interpretation, which the Court today adopts as its own, forsakes a clear congressional purpose that runs consistently throughout the statute in favor of a single, undefined word. Fixation on this single word in the several-hundred-page statute is inappropriate for several reasons.[2001] USCA9 284

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