Levesque v. Block

723 F.2d 175 (1983)

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Levesque v. Block

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
723 F.2d 175 (1983)

Facts

To combat fraud in the food-stamp program, Congress enacted the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 (OBRA), which expanded the definition of a “household” to include a presumption that parents and children residing together were a single household for eligibility purposes. The rule was passed in August 1981 as part of OBRA’s goal to reduce federal spending. OBRA required that Secretary of Agriculture John Block (the secretary) (defendant) determine the dates on which the program amendments would become effective, considering the need for orderly implementation. On September 4, 1981, the secretary published interim rules effective immediately. The secretary declared that good cause existed to dispense with public notice-and-comment requirements mandated by § 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Specifically, the secretary stated that OBRA’s goal of reducing federal spending could only be achieved if the rule was implemented at the start of the fiscal year. The secretary did, however, later provide an opportunity for public comment before the final rules were promulgated in November 1982. During this period, the secretary received and acted on numerous comments, incorporating some changes into the final rule. Michele Levesque (plaintiff) represented a class who sued to enjoin enforcement of regulations implementing the new definition. The secretary contended that the rule was exempt from notice-and-comment requirements because the rule was interpretative. The district court determined that the secretary did not have good cause to dispense with § 553 requirements. The secretary appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McGowan, J.)

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