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“Chevron Deference” Comes Under Fire From SCOTUS

Photo by Claire Anderson / Unsplash

By , CFACT on May 2nd, 2023

In what could be a potential big win for conservatives, the practice of “Chevron deference” is to be targeted by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in an upcoming court case for the next SCOTUS session.

Chevron deference has become known as the practice of deferring to the decision making of a federal agency when the agency is interpreting language in the law that Congress has left ambiguous. Rather than interpret the language themselves, the judges, under Chevron deference, rely on the decisions of the federal regulator under question.

While initially this decision benefited a more conservative agenda during the Reagan administration under environmental policy challenged in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council in 1984, since then, the policy of Chevron deference has overwhelmingly benefitted more liberal causes to federal regulations and agency decisions.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal:

“The Supreme Court said Monday it would reconsider a 1984 precedent some conservatives have argued grants too much power to federal regulators by directing courts to defer to an agency’s legal approach when Congress has left the statutory language ambiguous.

“The case granted Monday involves a fishing-industry challenge to a National Marine Fisheries Service regulation involving the payment of onboard monitors who oversee compliance with federal fishery-management law. The court expressly declined to consider the technical issue of the payment scales and instead took on the far more consequential question presented: whether to overrule the Chevron decision or significantly curb its application.”

There is no guarantee how SCOTUS will rule specifically on Chevron given the details of this fishing case, but the fact that SCOTUS is taking the case at all, and focusing mainly on the Chevron deference portion of the case, rather than the technical payment scales issue, sets up a potential huge win for conservatives.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

“‘We are delighted that the court took this case not only to potentially deliver justice to these fishermen, but also to reconsider a doctrine that has enabled the widespread expansion of unchecked executive authority,’ said Paul Clement, a litigator who has won significant victories for conservative causes at the high court.

“Mr. Clement, who was solicitor general in the George W. Bushadministration, will argue the industry’s side when Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo is heard in the court’s next term, which begins in October.”

Read the Wall Street Journal’s full story here.

Adam Houser coordinates student leaders as National Director of CFACT's collegians program and writes on issues of climate and energy.

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