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  • Curt Levey

Supreme Court Overrules Chevron Doctrine

The following is a statement from Committee for Justice president Curt Levey on the Supreme Court’s decision today in a pair of cases overruling the Chevron doctrine of administrative law. The Committee for Justice and the Cato Institute filed a Supreme Court amicus brief in one of the cases, Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo:


In what is probably the most consequential decision of this Supreme Court term, the Supreme Court overruled the 40-year old Chevron doctrine that requires courts to defer to federal agencies’ interpretations of unclear statutory text if the interpretation is merely “reasonable.”


Today’s decision was a huge and historic step towards limiting the expanding powers of the administrative state, which spring largely from the ability of federal agencies to enact major policies grounded only thinly and creatively in statutory authorization. That ability has now been sharply curtailed.


Chevron not only ceded too much power to unelected bureaucrats in the administrative state, but it also allowed federal judges to throw up their hands and defer to federal agencies without doing the hard work necessary to apply long-standing interpretive tools to determine the meaning of statutory text.


But as Chief Justice Roberts explained for the 6-3 majority, that deference violates the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires courts to exercise their independent judgment. It is also at odds with the constitutional role of courts in interpreting statutory ambiguity, he said, and “is misguided because agencies have no special competence in resolving statutory ambiguities. Courts do.”


As our amicus brief in the case argued, “When it comes to Chevron, the Court should not take half measures.” “It is time for this Court to overrule Chevron.” That is exactly what the Court did today, when it issued as decisive a rebuke of Chevron as any of its critics could have hoped for.


We can only hope that this decision will now motivate Congress to do its job better—that is, write statutes that are not ambiguous or silent on important details.


Justice Kagan, in her dissent, called today’s decision, along with yesterday's ruling in SEC v. Jarkesy, "yet another example of the Court's resolve to roll back agency authority." Indeed, Kagan is correct that the Supreme Court has taken a bite out of the administrative state in several important decisions since just last spring (see our amicus briefs in Sackett v. EPA, the student debt cancellation cases, and Axon v. FTC). Today’s bite is the biggest.


The Roberts Court is likely to be remembered—perhaps even best remembered—for this series of decisions.



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