City of Arlington v. FCC

Facts of the Case

“A trade association asked the FCC to clarify language inwhich required state and local governments to act on any request to place, construct, or modify personal wireless service facilities “within a reasonable period of time.” The FCC issued a ruling that a “reasonable period of time” underwas presumptively (but rebuttably) 90 days to process a collocation application and 150 days to process all other applications. Several cities challenged the FCC’s ruling but the Fifth Circuit found that the FCC possessed statutory authority to adopt the 90- and 150-day time frames and that the FCC’s ruling was not arbitrary and capricious.”


Does a court order requiring California to reduce its prison population to remedy unconstitutional conditions in its correctional facilities violate the Prison Litigation Reform Act?


“Yes. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing himself and four other justices, held that courts must apply the Chevron doctrine and defer to an agency’s interpretation of its jurisdiction when that jurisdiction is called into question. The Chevron doctrine is supported Congressional intent that an agency should determine its jurisdiction when there is ambiguity in a statute. The Court held that there was no significant difference between “run-of-the-mill” ambiguity and important, “jurisdictional” ambiguity. Instead, every new application of an ambiguous statutory term could be reframed as a jurisdictional issue concerning the who, what, where, or when questions of an agency’s regulatory power. The test should look at whether the statute’s language prevents the agency’s assertion of authority. If the agency’s assertion is based on a permissible interpretation of the statute, then the courts must defer to the agency.Justice Stephen G. Breyer concurred in part and concurred in the judgment. Although he agreed that courts should not get involved where Congress has deferred to an agency’s judgment, he argued that the mere existence of ambiguity should not be considered conclusive evidence of Congress’ intent to defer to that agency. Where Congressional intent is not clear, the courts should be permitted to interpret the statute accordingly.Chief Justice John Roberts dissented and argued that a court should not defer to an agency until that court decides, on its own, that the agency is entitled to deference. However, once a court has made such a determination, Chevron deference may be warranted. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. joined in the dissent.”

Case Information

Citation: 569 US 290 (2013)
Granted: Oct 5, 2012
Argued: Jan 16, 2013
Decided: May 20, 2013
Case Brief: 2013