Publication Date



Like federal and state administrative agencies
throughout the nation, Georgia's many boards,
commissions and authorities make policy when they apply
their governing statutes in promulgating regulations and
in ruling on specific matters like granting or denying an
application for a permit or determining the residency of a
candidate for public office. Sometimes governing statutes
are clear, but sometimes there is ambiguity. When there is
ambiguity in the governing statute, an agency must
interpret that legislation when it promulgates regulations
or decides a particular contested matter. This Article asks
and answers the fundamental question of what deference,
if any, must a Georgia court afford to a state agency's
interpretation of its governing statute when it reviews that
agency's decision in a contested case or considers a
challenge to the validity or applicability of the agency's
The most frequently cited and analyzed decision by the
Supreme Court of the United States on administrative law
is Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense
Counsel. This landmark 1984 decision concerns the issue
of appropriate deference, and the Court established two-
step framework for analysis that has taken the judicial
world by storm. Of course, Chevron is a federal decision
that does not bind any state's courts in how they review
rulings from the state's agencies. There are many decisions
by Georgia's appellate courts since 1935 discussing
judicial deference. This Article's thesis is that Georgia's
courts have adopted and utilized a framework for analysis
that is very similar to the famous Chevron two-step.

Notwithstanding the parallels between the approaches,
Georgia's courts have not acknowledged the influential
Chevron decision in their opinions. This might be
explained by the fact that Georgia's strong deference
jurisprudence pre-dates Chevron by almost fifty years.