Publication Date



The Hobbs Administrative Orders Review Act is a
little-known statute, one that is often mistaken for a
federal criminal statute with a similar name.
The lesser-known Hobbs Act requires aggrieved parties
to challenge certain agency orders in a federal court of
appeals within sixty days of the order’s promulgation.
However, if no party does so, are later parties bound by
a potentially unlawful agency order in subsequent
enforcement actions? The U.S. Supreme Court recently
dodged this question in PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton
& Harris Chiropractic, Inc. That case concerned a suit
between two private parties under the Telephone
Consumer Protection Act, which the Federal
Communications Commission interpreted as
prohibiting faxes that advertise free goods. The district
court held that it was not bound by the agency’s
determination, but the Fourth Circuit held that the
FCC’s interpretation was binding on the district
court under the Hobbs Act. Justice Breyer’s opinion of
the Court remanded the case for the Fourth Circuit to
consider two predicate questions. In contrast, Justice
Kavanaugh would have allowed parties in enforcement
actions to challenge the agency’s interpretation in
district court.
Both opinions neglected the extensive, but largely
unearthed, legislative history germane to the disputed
question. This history reveals that the drafters did not
intend the Hobbs Act’s provisions to apply to subsequent

private enforcement actions; rather, they may have
intended these provisions to only apply to judicial review
of agency orders made through formal proceedings. The
disconnect between the drafters’ assumptions and
modern realities of the administrative state illustrate the
challenges the Court faced when applying an archaic
administrative statute. And, perhaps surprisingly, the
legislative history provides support for both Justices’