Supreme Court Poised to Radically Restrict Bureaucratic Power


The Supreme Court is on the verge of a significant ruling that could dramatically curtail the power of federal agencies. This decision centers on the Chevron deference doctrine, established by the 1984 case Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., which mandates that courts defer to agency interpretations of ambiguous statutes as long as those interpretations are reasonable.

In the upcoming cases of Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce, the Court will reassess Chevron deference. The plaintiffs, commercial fishing companies from New Jersey and Rhode Island, challenge a 2020 rule requiring them to cover the costs of fishery management observers on their vessels. They argue that this rule represents an overreach of agency power and seek to eliminate Chevron deference, thereby limiting the interpretive authority of federal agencies​​.

Should the Supreme Court overturn Chevron, the implications could be vast. This doctrine has been a cornerstone of administrative law, supporting a wide range of federal regulations from environmental protections to labor laws. Critics of Chevron argue that it allows agencies too much leeway to interpret laws, effectively enabling them to legislate without proper checks and balances​​. Justice Neil Gorsuch, a vocal opponent, has suggested that Chevron "deserves a tombstone no one can miss"​​.

Proponents of Chevron deference, including Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson, argue that agencies possess the necessary expertise to interpret complex statutes and that deference ensures consistent and informed policymaking.

They contend that without Chevron, courts will be burdened with making policy decisions for which they lack expertise​​. On the other hand, critics like Justice Brett Kavanaugh believe that Chevron introduces instability, allowing significant policy shifts with each new administration​​.

If Chevron is overturned, the decision will likely embolden challenges to a plethora of federal regulations. The ruling could undermine policies related to environmental protection, financial regulation, and healthcare, among others.

The Biden administration has defended Chevron, asserting that agency expertise is crucial for interpreting statutes that are inherently complex and require specialized knowledge​​.

The Supreme Court's decision on Chevron deference is expected to be a landmark ruling with far-reaching consequences for federal regulatory power. By potentially shifting the balance of interpretive authority from agencies to the judiciary, the ruling could reshape the landscape of American administrative law, impacting not only current regulations but also the future capacity of federal agencies to implement policies effectively.


  1. Sure I want a bunch of lawyers in robes deciding what is the best way to test new medicines, evaluate food additives or how much toxins DOW Chemical can safely dump in a river. BRILLIANT!


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