U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Chevron Doctrine: The Liberty Justice Center Praises Supreme Court’s Decision to Roll Back Administrative State’s Power

June 28, 2024

In a historic decision issued this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court has formally overturned the “Chevron doctrine”—a rule it adopted in 1984, under which federal courts defer to federal agencies’ interpretation of their own powers as a matter of course—and ruled in favor of the herring fishermen who argued their case, Loper Bright Enterprises, Inc. v. Raimondo, before the Court in January 2024.

In their lawsuit, the fishermen argued that the National Marine Fisheries Service had overstepped its limited authority by interpreting broad legislation to specifically require every fishery to pay the daily salary of an agency-mandated monitor—who had to be present on every voyage and oversee all operations. In its decision today, the Supreme Court agreed with the fishermen and overturned Chevron, the legal precedent that had emboldened the agency to demand the fishermen fund the program.

Before today’s ruling, the Chevron doctrine effectively required courts to take the side of the federal regulator whenever an individual challenged a regulation that the agency enacted under a federal law deemed ambiguous in its scope. Since the Supreme Court adopted it in 1984, Chevron deference has been widely applied by courts to nearly every federal and state agency decision across the country.

In today’s decision, however, the Supreme Court struck down that doctrine and returned the role of statutory interpretation to its rightful place with the judicial branch. This change significantly rolls back administrative agencies’ ability to determine the scope of their own power.

In December 2022, the Liberty Justice Center filed an amicus brief in Loper Bright Enterprises, Inc. v. Raimondo alongside the Cato Institute, urging the Supreme Court to hear the case and strike down Chevron as unconstitutional and ahistorical. After the Court granted the petition for certiorari, the Liberty Justice Center filed another amicus brief supporting the fishermen in July 2023, urging the Supreme Court to overturn Chevron because it unconstitutionally delegated the judicial branch’s interpretive authority to the executive branch.

“For decades, the Chevron doctrine has allowed unaccountable agencies and bureaucrats to determine the scope of their own power—and to use that excessive power to run roughshod over Americans’ rights. We applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Chevron, restore courts’ power to independently interpret statutes, and significantly rein in the administrative state’s unlawful overreach,” said Senior Counsel Loren Seehase. “Now that courts are no longer shackled to agencies’ interpretations, agency rules can be fairly interpreted—and we look forward to challenging their overreach.”

The Liberty Justice Center’s amicus briefs in Loper Bright Enterprises, Inc. v. Raimondo are available here.


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