Supreme Court Ruling Strikes Major Blow to Big Government

Written by Daniel Thompson.

The Supreme Court delivered a significant ruling today, voting 6-3 to overrule the controversial Chevron deference. This decision is a monumental win for those opposing the extensive power accumulated by the administrative state over recent decades.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, stated, “The Administrative Procedure Act requires courts to exercise their independent judgment in deciding whether an agency has acted within its statutory authority, and courts may not defer to an agency interpretation of the law simply because a statute is ambiguous; Chevron is overruled.”

Chevron deference, established by the 1984 case Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., allowed courts to defer to reasonable administrative agency interpretations if a federal statute was unclear. This practice granted agencies broad regulatory authority, impacting areas like healthcare, immigration, and environmental policies.

Implications of the Ruling

The Supreme Court’s decision marks a turning point in judicial review of administrative actions. Roberts emphasized that the courts must leave behind Chevron to ensure that laws are interpreted consistently and intelligibly. Despite this shift, prior cases relying on Chevron will remain valid under statutory stare decisis.

Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog explained, “Chevron defies the command of the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires the reviewing court—not the agency—to decide all relevant questions of law and interpret statutory provisions. It mandates courts to follow their independent judgment.”

The high court consolidated two cases—Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce—and heard arguments in January. Both cases challenged the National Marine Fisheries Service’s interpretation of a federal fishing law, questioning who should bear the cost of government-required monitors on fishing boats.

Judicial Interpretations and Political Reactions

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, while on the D.C. Circuit Court, criticized Chevron for inviting an overly aggressive executive branch. He argued that agencies often push legal boundaries, assuming courts will defer to their interpretations if they present statutory ambiguities.

Carrie Campbell Severino of National Review highlighted that the Supreme Court has consistently recognized that unelected bureaucrats should not decide major questions. She noted, “The phenomenon associated with the Progressive Era has resulted in the executive branch becoming insulated from elected officials, making the notion of superior competence of government bureaucrats increasingly ridiculous.”

The ruling has sparked debates on the future role of federal regulations. Critics argue that striking down Chevron might lead to numerous lawsuits, potentially overwhelming the court systems. However, many believe this decision could prompt Congress to reduce federal regulations and return power to state and local governments.

Our Take

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Chevron deference is a crucial step towards limiting the unchecked power of the administrative state. This ruling reaffirms the judiciary’s role in interpreting laws, ensuring that unelected bureaucrats do not wield excessive influence. The public should welcome this move as it aims to restore accountability and transparency in government actions. By reducing federal regulations, we can prevent bureaucrats from imposing burdensome rules on ordinary Americans. This decision could be the catalyst needed for Congress to roll back unnecessary regulations and empower local governments and families.

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