Written by Ashton Snyder on
 July 1, 2024

Supreme Court Repeal of Chevron Strengthens Legislative Role

The Supreme Court has repealed a pivotal 1984 decision that profoundly influenced administrative law.

The ruling overturns Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, reducing agency power and assigning Congress more legislative responsibility.

According to the New York Post, the court overturned the Chevron deference framework, established forty years ago. This framework required courts to defer to administrative agencies' reasonable interpretations of unclear statutes. This significant reversal has reignited the judiciary's involvement in interpreting statutes.

The Chevron Doctrine: A Historical Perspective

The original Chevron doctrine was part of the Reagan administration's broader deregulatory agenda. By requiring courts to defer to agency expertise, it streamlined regulatory oversight and significantly empowered agencies. However, over time, this principle resulted in expansive bureaucratic influence, subtly diminishing Congress's legislative authority.

According to Chief Justice John Roberts, the notion that agencies have superior competence in resolving statutory ambiguities is a fallacy. Roberts stated:

At this point all that remains of Chevron is a decaying husk with false pretensions. Chevron’s presumption is misguided because agencies have no special competence in resolving statutory ambiguities. Courts do.

The court decided that the Chevron doctrine conflicts with the Administrative Procedure Act. The Supreme Court emphasized that judicial resolution of ambiguities, even those concerning the scope of agency power, is fitting and necessary.

Implications for Federal Policies

The ruling has significant implications for the current administration. Due to the court's stance, policies such as the Biden administration's Title IX rules and student-loan forgiveness plan now face considerable challenges. These regulatory schemes, heavily reliant on executive branch discretion, may struggle without the shield of Chevron deference.

For nearly a decade, the court has abstained from invoking Chevron in its rulings. This abstention underscored the diminishing reliance on the doctrine and possibly foretold its eventual demise.

The recent judgment reaffirms the judiciary's indispensable role in statutory interpretation. This shift aims to bolster democratic accountability by compelling Congress to exercise its legislative duties actively. By repealing Chevron, the court has effectively placed the onus back on Congress to clarity in legislation.

A Shift Towards Accountability

The implications of this ruling extend beyond administrative law into the broader political landscape. Congressional legislators are now expected to engage more robustly in lawmaking, reducing their dependency on administrative bodies for statutory interpretation. This decision re-establishes a more balanced distribution of power among the different branches of government.

In his statements, Chief Justice Roberts reflected on the broader significance of the ruling. He emphasized the appropriateness of judicial intervention in cases of statutory ambiguity, especially regarding the scope of agency authority. According to Roberts, “that is no less true when the ambiguity is about the scope of an agency’s own power — perhaps the occasion on which abdication in favor of the agency is least appropriate."

As a result, the overturning of Chevron is poised to invoke substantial changes in how legislation is crafted, interpreted, and implemented. This decision encourages a more proactive legislative branch while simultaneously stressing the importance of judicial oversight.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court's decision in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo marks a significant turn in administrative law. The ruling not only undoes the long-standing Chevron deference but also reasserts the judiciary's role in statutory interpretation, nudging Congress toward greater legislative clarity and accountability.

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About Ashton Snyder

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