February 25, 1998
The Administration strongly opposes enactment of H.R. 1544, which would
require Federal agencies, officers, and employees to adhere to U.S. court
of appeals precedent established in a particular circuit and would limit an
agency's discretion to relitigate legal issues in Federal courts.
The bill's standards for determining when "nonacquiescence" (i.e., refusal to follow precedent) is appropriate would not provide the Federal Government with the flexibility needed to determine which cases to appeal to the Supreme Court and which legal issues to continue litigating in the lower courts. The bill could result in unproductive litigation over the issue of acquiesence rather than over the merits of a claim. In addition, the bill could result in inconsistent application of the law by allowing agency employees to interpret appellate decisions.