411 U.S. 182 (1973), 71-1545, Butz v. Glover Livestock Commission Co., Inc.

Docket Nº:No. 71-1545
Citation:411 U.S. 182, 93 S.Ct. 1455, 36 L.Ed.2d 142
Party Name:Butz v. Glover Livestock Commission Co., Inc.
Case Date:March 28, 1973
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 182

411 U.S. 182 (1973)

93 S.Ct. 1455, 36 L.Ed.2d 142

Butz

v.

Glover Livestock Commission Co., Inc.

No. 71-1545

United States Supreme Court

March 28, 1973

Argued February 27, 1973

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Respondent stockyard operator, who, after a hearing, had been found to have short-weighted livestock and underpaid consignors on the basis of the false weights, was ordered by a Judicial Officer acting for the Secretary of Agriculture to cease and desist and to keep correct records, and its registration under the Packers and Stockyards Act was suspended for 20 days. The Court of Appeals upheld all but the suspension, which it found inappropriate in view of the other sanctions, and contrary to the Secretary's practice except for "intentional and flagrant" violations.

Held: In setting aside the suspension order, the Court of Appeals exceeded the scope of proper judicial review of administrative sanctions, since the Secretary had full authority to make the suspension order as a deterrent to violations, whether intentional or negligent, and issuance of the order against respondent, who had ignored previous warnings against short-weighting, was not an abuse of administrative discretion. Pp. 185-189.

454 F.2d 109, reversed.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. STEWART, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which DOUGLAS, J., joined, post, p. 189.

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BRENNAN, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Judicial Officer of the Department of Agriculture, acting for the Secretary of Agriculture, found that respondent, a registrant under the Packers and Stockyards Act, 1921, 42 Stat. 159, 7 U.S.C. § 181 et seq., willfully violated §§ 307(a) and 312(a) of the Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 208(a) and 213(a), by incorrect weighing of livestock, and also breached § 401, 7 U.S.C. § 221, by entries of false weights. An order was entered directing that respondent cease and desist from [93 S.Ct. 1457] the violations and keep correct accounts, and also suspending respondent as a registrant under the Act for 20 days. Upon review of the decision and order, the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld, as supported by substantial evidence, the findings that respondent violated the Act by short-weighting cattle, and also sustained the cease and desist order and the order to keep correct accounts. The Court of Appeals, however, set aside the 20-day suspension. 454 F.2d 109 (1972). We granted certiorari to consider whether, in doing so, the Court of Appeals exceeded the scope of proper judicial review of administrative sanctions. 409 U.S. 947 (1972). We conclude that the setting aside of the suspension was an impermissible judicial intrusion into the administrative domain under the circumstances of this case, and reverse.

Respondent operates a stockyard in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. As a registered "market agency" under § 303 of the Act, 7 U.S.C. § 203, respondent is authorized to sell consigned livestock on commission, subject to the regulatory provisions of the Act and the Secretary's implementing regulations.1 Investigations of respondent's operations

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in 1964, 1966, and 1967 uncovered instances of underweighing of consigned livestock. Respondent was informally warned to correct the situation, but when a 1969 investigation revealed more underweighing, the present proceeding was instituted by the Administrator of the Packers and Stockyards Administration.

Following a hearing and the submission of briefs, the Department of Agriculture hearing examiner found that respondent had

intentionally weighed the livestock at less than their true weights, issued scale tickets and accountings to the consignors on the basis of the false weights, and paid the consignors on the basis of the false weights.2

The hearing examiner recommended, in addition to a cease and desist order and an order to keep correct records, a 30-day suspension of respondent's registration under the Act.

The matter was then referred to the Judicial Officer. After hearing oral argument, the Judicial Officer filed a decision and order accepting the hearing examiner's findings and adopting his recommendations of a cease and desist order and an order to keep correct records. The recommended suspension was also imposed, but was reduced to 20 days. The Judicial Officer stated:

It is not a pleasant task to impose sanctions, but, in view of the previous warnings given respondent, we conclude that we should not only issue a cease and desist order, but also a suspension of respondent

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as a registrant under the act, but for a lesser period than recommended by complainant and the hearing examiner.

30 Agri.Dec. 179, 186 (1971).

The Court of Appeals agreed that 7 U.S.C. § 204 authorized the Secretary to suspend "any registrant found in violation of the Act," 454 F.2d at 113, that the suspension procedure here satisfied the relevant requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 558, and that

the evidence indicates...

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