"The U.S. Constitution vests the judicial power in the Supreme Court and any inferior courts established by Congress, limiting the power of federal courts to the context of a of a 'case' or 'controversy.' Pursuant to this authority, Congress has established federal courts below the Supreme Court of the United States to hear a variety of cases, both criminal and civil.9 Federal legislation authorizes courts to adjudicate challenges to actions taken by government officials and agencies in a variety of contexts. Federal courts are, however, courts of limited jurisdiction-they must adhere to limits placed on their authority by Congress and the Constitution. The circumstances under which a federal court will review the actions of a U.S. government agency or official thus involve complicated questions of statutory and constitutional law. This report offers a brief overview of some of the most important issues arising when individuals bring suit in federal court to challenge agency actions. The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) is perhaps the most prominent modern vehicle for challenging the actions of a federal agency. […] The report opens with a discussion of the circumstances in which federal courts are empowered to review agency actions and follows with a look at the scope of review authorized by the APA. It then continues by describing the mechanics of a federal court's review of an agency's statutory authority, as well as the standards employed in the review of an agency's discretionary decisions. The report concludes with a brief examination of judicial review of agency compliance with statutorily prescribed procedural requirements."
CRS Report for Congress, R44699
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html