What Do the Studies of Judicial Review of Agency Actions Mean?
Professor Pierce describes the major findings of ten empirical studies in which scholars have engaged in statistical analysis of large numbers of cases in which courts at all levels of the judiciary have applied six doctrines in the process of reviewing agency actions. The most robust and consistent findings include: neither choice of doctrine nor choice of decision making procedures is an important determinant of the outcome of review proceedings; courts uphold about two-thirds of the agency actions they review, no matter what doctrine the court invokes or what procedures the agency used; the political or ideological preferences of judges and Justices explain between 10 and 30 percent of their votes; and the D.C. Circuit is consistently less deferential to agencies than other regional circuit courts. Professor Pierce suggests a variety of inferences that practitioners, judges, teachers, and scholars should draw from the studies’ findings.