Under the California Administrative Procedure Act (APA), interested parties are authorized to file a lawsuit in order to challenge the validity of a regulation. Under this approach, any interested person may obtain a judicial declaration regarding the validity of any regulation or order of repeal by bringing an action for declaratory relief in superior court.
What kind of test does a court in this state use in order to review a regulation’s validity? For a regular rulemaking, the regulation may be declared to be invalid for a substantial failure to comply with the APA. For an emergency rulemaking, the regulation may be declared to be invalid upon the ground that the facts recited in the finding of emergency do not constitute an emergency.
There are other grounds for a regulation to be declared invalid. For example, the agency’s determination that the regulation is reasonably necessary to effectuate the purpose of the law that is being implemented, interpreted, or made specific by the regulation is not supported by substantial evidence; or, the agency declaration is in conflict with substantial evidence in the record of the rulemaking file.
According to the APA, there is only specified evidence that a court can consider:
- The rulemaking file;
- The finding of emergency;
- An item that is required to be included in the rulemaking file, but is not included in the rulemaking file; and,
- Any evidence relevant to whether a regulation used by an agency is required to be adopted under the APA.
Also of interest is that the publication of a regulation in the California Code of Regulations or California Code of Regulations Supplement raises a rebuttable presumption that the text of the regulation as published is the text of the regulation adopted. Moreover, the courts in this state must take judicial notice of the contents of each regulation which is printed or which is incorporated by appropriate reference into the California Code of Regulations as compiled by the OAL.
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