Written by Ashton Snyder on
 June 11, 2024

Supreme Court Poised to Challenge Biden’s Regulatory Authority

The United States Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling that could reshape the balance of power between federal agencies and the judiciary.

According to the Washington Examiner, the ruling might overturn the Chevron doctrine, a precedent that allows federal agencies to interpret ambiguous statutes, affecting President Biden's regulatory agenda.

The Chevron doctrine, in place since the 1980s, mandates that courts defer to federal agencies to interpret unclear laws, provided the interpretation is reasonable. This principle has been a cornerstone of administrative law, supporting various regulatory actions by federal agencies.

Potential Repercussions of the Ruling

Business and industry groups have long criticized Chevron, arguing that it empowers agencies to enforce burdensome regulations. Major players like Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and the North American Meat Institute are among the opponents, suggesting that the doctrine has led to excessive control by executive agencies.

In contrast, the federal government defends Chevron, emphasizing that it upholds the authority of Congress and the courts. This precedent, they argue, ensures that subject matter experts within agencies handle complex regulatory issues rather than judges who may lack specific expertise.

The upcoming decision stems from two cases, Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce. These cases challenge a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) rule requiring commercial fishermen to finance at-sea monitors, presenting an opportunity to reconsider Chevron.

Justices Express Skepticism

Several justices expressed doubts about affirming Chevron during January's oral arguments. Justice Neil Gorsuch pointed out that relying on Chevron disadvantages groups like immigrants and Social Security Disability applicants who can't influence agency actions.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh raised constitutional concerns, suggesting Chevron allows new administrations to repeatedly redefine laws, creating regulatory instability. Chief Justice John Roberts noted a trend in recent decisions that seem to minimize Chevron's influence, indicating the Court may be moving away from it.

Varied Perspectives Among Justices

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar defended Chevron, arguing that agencies populated with experts are more apt to interpret ambiguous laws. Prelogar warned that overturning Chevron could result in an "unwarranted shock to the legal system," with many litigants emerging to challenge established regulations.

Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson warned against discarding Chevron due to its importance in allowing Congress to address future challenges like AI. They cautioned that removing Chevron would make courts "uber legislators." Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s stance is pivotal and is closely watched by supporters and critics.

Implications for Future Regulatory Actions

Conservative interest groups contend that the Chevron doctrine unfairly favors agency experts, potentially skewing interpretations against challengers. Legal analyst Cary Burke suggests that a Supreme Court decision to revise Chevron could alter its application, either by changing how statutory ambiguity is assessed or limiting its use to cases where Congress has clearly delegated legislative powers to an agency.

As the Supreme Court ruling approaches, its implications for administrative law and federal agency powers hang in the balance. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar’s warning about the potential "shock to the legal system" underscores the high stakes involved in this landmark decision.

Justice Neil Gorsuch’s critique signals an intent to recalibrate the power distribution between the judiciary and executive agencies. The Court’s decision, expected before the end of June, could significantly reshape the regulatory landscape and redefine the interplay between different branches of government.

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About Ashton Snyder

Independent conservative news without a leftist agenda.
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