May 4, 2023

SC Reconsiders Chevron

“Nearly 40 years ago, in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, the Supreme Court ruled that courts should defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous statute as long as that interpretation is reasonable. On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to reconsider its ruling in Chevron. The question comes to the court in a case brought by a group of commercial fishing companies. They challenged a rule issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service that requires the fishing industry to pay for the costs of observers who monitor compliance with fishery management plans…

“Relying on Chevron, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the companies’ challenge to the rule. Judge Judith Rogers explained that although federal fishery law makes clear that the government can require fishing boats to carry monitors, it does not specifically address who must pay for the monitors. Because the NMFS’s interpretation of federal fishery law as authorizing industry-funded monitors was a reasonable one, Rogers concluded, the court should defer to that interpretation…  

“The fishing companies came to the Supreme Court in November, asking the justices both to weigh in on their challenge to the rule and to overrule Chevron (or, the petition suggested, clarify that when a law does not address ‘controversial powers expressly but narrowly granted elsewhere in the statute,’ there is no ambiguity in the statute, and therefore no deference is required).” SCOTUSblog

See past issues

From the Left

The left urges the Court to uphold current precedent, arguing that experts in administrative agencies are better qualified to determine specific regulations.

From the Right

The right urges the Court to limit deference to administrative agencies, arguing that lawmaking responsibility belongs to Congress.

The right urges the Court to limit deference to administrative agencies, arguing that lawmaking responsibility belongs to Congress.

A libertarian's take

“While I would be happy to see Chevron overturned, I am skeptical of claims it will make a huge difference to the future of federal regulation… 1) we often forget that the US had a large and powerful federal administrative state even before Chevron was decided in 1984, 2) states that have abolished Chevron-like judicial deference to administrative agencies (or never had it in the first place) don't seem to have significantly weaker executive agencies or significantly lower levels of regulation, as a result…

“3) a great deal of informal judicial deference to agencies is likely to continue, even in the absence of Chevron, and 4) Chevron sometimes protects deregulatory policies as well as those that increase regulation (it also sometimes protects various right-wing policies that increase regulation, in an age where pro-regulation ‘national conservatives’ are increasingly influential on the right); the Chevron decision itself protected a relatively deregulatory environmental policy by the Reagan administration.”
Ilya Somin, Volokh Conspiracy

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. Please email us at if you continue to have issues!