Article Title

Lessons from the Lost History of Seminole Rock

Publication Title

Georgia Mason Law Review


Bowles v. Seminole Rock, deference

Document Type



This Article informs the current debate over Auer v. Robbins (519 U.S. 452 (1997)) deference by exploring the roots of the Bowles v. Seminole Rock decision (325 U.S. 410 (1945)) and its subsequent reinterpretation through a creative approach. To do so, this Article offers a series of hypothetical opinions applying the various historical interpretations of Seminole Rock to a single set of facts. Part I places Seminole Rock in the constellation of deference doctrines in administrative law so that one can easily understand what the doctrine is and when it applies. Part II examines the transformation of Seminole Rock through a series of hypothetical D.C. Circuit opinions based on the facts of Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center (133 S. Ct. 1326 (2013)). These opinions illustrate how courts have struggled to apply this expansive and untethered doctrine in the face of a growing administrative state. Part III offers observations from this exercise and urges reconsideration of Auer deference to reconcile the current doctrine with Seminole Rock's historical roots.

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