Within the Scope

Blogging on Administrative Law and the Public Sector

Friday, November 28, 2008

Quasi-Legislative or Quasi-Judicial: Is it a Duty or Just a Good Idea?

In an interesting unpublished opinion issued on Tuesday of this week, a panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that the Metropolitan Council’s decision to undertake a park land exchange with the Minneapolis Park Board was a “quasi-legislative” decision that was beyond the reach of the state courts to review by way of a writ of certiorari.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Metropolitan Council had earlier promulgated standards under which it would assess such proposed swaps, for the appellate panel, a key part of the analysis was the discretion retained by the Council in such circumstances. Because the Metropolitan Council could reject proposed land exchanges, even in cases where their standards had been satisfied, the decision to undertake the transaction was more “legislative” than it was “judicial.” As Judge Michelle Larkin explained:
[W]e note that Strategy 5(b) does not mandate approval of a proposed park land exchange when its criteria are satisfied. Once Met Council determines that a proposed park land exchange satisfies the mandatory criteria in Strategy 5(b), it is not obliged to automatically approve the exchange; rather, Met Council maintains discretion to nevertheless reject the proposal. The fact that Strategy 5(b) does not require Met Council to approve a park land exchange, even if the proposed land exchange satisfies Strategy 5(b)’s criteria, reinforces our view that this case does not involve a disputed claim regarding specific property but rather, a policy decision regarding the park system as a whole.
The panel's complete analysis is accessible here.