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Agency Rules as Constraints on the Exercise of an Agency’s Statutory Discretion

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When an agency exercises discretion vested in it by statute by issuing a rule, the rule assumes the force and effect of law, and must be followed by the agency until it is amended or revoked. This principle applies notwithstanding an amendment to the authorizing statute affording greater discretion to the agency than is reflected in the existing rule.

When a statute grants discretion to an agency, the agency is usually free to exercise that discretion on a case-by-case basis, rather than through the adoption of general rules, unless either the statute itself or the requirements of due process make the adoption of general rules mandatory.


Updated July 9, 2014