Friday, June 28, 2024

Supreme Court Strikes Down Chevron Deference To Federal Agencies' Interpretations of Law

According to Law360, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned a decades-old precedent that instructed judges about when they could defer to federal agencies' interpretations of law in rulemaking, depriving courts of a commonly used analytic tool and leaving lots of questions about what comes next.

In a 6-3 ruling, a majority of justices held that the high court's test established in 1984's Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council improperly prioritized the executive branch's legal interpretations over the judicial branch's.

The decision hands a win to fishing industry plaintiffs that sought the complete destruction of so-called Chevron deference and introduces significant uncertainty about how lower courts will weigh competing legal arguments in the large arena of rulemaking litigation.

Plaintiffs in Loper Bright v. Raimondo and Relentless v. Department of Commerce had asked the high court to overturn Chevron or at least significantly narrow the doctrine's application.

All nine justices in January heard oral arguments in Relentless, but in Loper Bright, heard the same day, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson recused herself due to her involvement in the matter as a judge at the D.C. Circuit.

Both Relentless and Loper Bright are centered around fishing groups' challenges to a 2018 National Marine Fisheries Service rule requiring fishers to pay part of the cost of having federal compliance monitors aboard their ships. The plaintiffs in both cases had argued unsuccessfully that NMFS interpreted the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation Management Act too broadly and created regulations that exceed the agency's authority.

But the hostility to the Chevron precedent that some of the current justices have expressed led to speculation that the plaintiffs' luck could and did in fact change at the Supreme Court.

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