The Supreme Court and the Entitlement to Litigate

In a landmark legal battle that is poised to shape the landscape of administrative law, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday in Corner Post v. Board of Governors, Federal Reserve. At the heart of this case lies a crucial question: How long should Americans have the right to challenge regulatory actions that they deem inconsistent with the law or proper procedure?

Corner Post Challenges Debit Card Fee Cap

Corner Post, a North Dakota truck stop and convenience store, finds itself at the center of this legal saga. In 2011, the Federal Reserve enacted a rule under the Dodd-Frank Act. This rule capped interchange fees for debit cards, a move with significant implications for both financial institutions and retailers. Fast forward to 2021. Corner Post stepped forward, challenging the rule under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). They alleged that the process employed by the Fed in setting the cap was legally flawed.

Statute of Limitations Dispute

However, the dispute revolves around interpreting the statute of limitations under the APA. Regulators argue that challenges must arise within six years of a rule’s issuance. However, Corner Post contends that the clock should start ticking from the moment a party is adversely affected or aggrieved by the agency action. In this case, the clock did not start until 2018 when Corner Post opened its doors and felt the impact of the regulation.

Appeals and Legal Arguments

The case has already traversed the appellate circuit, with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals siding with the government’s interpretation. Yet, Corner Post remains undeterred. They point to the language of the APA, which specifies that the statute of limitations expires “six years after the right of action first accrues.” This interpretation, they argue, aligns more closely with the intent of the law. It ensures that individuals are not unduly deprived of their right to seek redress for regulatory overreach.

Implications and Broader Questions

Legal experts anticipate that the Supreme Court ruling could have far-reaching implications, not just for Corner Post and the Federal Reserve but for the broader regulatory landscape. At stake is not just the fate of a single regulation. It’s the very principles governing the relationship between administrative agencies and the individuals and businesses they regulate.

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Balancing Power and Accountability

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the case also raises broader questions about the nature of administrative law and the balance of power between regulators and the regulated. Should we grant agencies immunity from legal challenges after a certain period? Or does such a notion undermine the fundamental principles of accountability and the rule of law?

Awaiting the Verdict

As the legal world awaits the Supreme Court’s verdict, one thing is certain. The decision of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve will reverberate far beyond the hallowed halls of the judiciary. It will shape the contours of administrative law for years to come.