Supreme Court to Hear Lawsuit Challenging Unfair ‘Chevron Doctrine’

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The Supreme Court today agreed to hear a lawsuit challenging the Chevron doctrine, a policy requiring courts to defer to regulatory agencies in lawsuits challenging regulations. CEI legal and policy experts praised the court for revisiting a doctrine that for decades has put citizens at a disadvantage in court.

Devin Watkins, CEI Attorney:

“For nearly 40 years—ever since the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Chevron v. National Resources Defense Council—American law has been made more unpredictable and indeterminate. Under Chevron, the court in 1984 held that when a statute is ambiguous, courts must defer to federal agencies’ interpretation of that statute in lawsuits brought by citizens. That requirement puts citizens at an unfair disadvantage in challenging regulations that harm their lives and livelihoods. Furthermore, when the agency changes its personnel, as often happens when a new president is elected, the agency’s legal interpretations can change drastically—and the courts still must defer to the agencies. That undermines stability in the law.

“It is marvelous that the Supreme Court will consider overturning Chevron deference to federal agencies next term. The judge’s role is to say what the law is, not to hand off that job to federal agencies. If Chevron is overturned, the law will no longer oscillate every four years, depending on who wins the presidency. Consumers, private businesses, and the public generally will be better off if Chevron deference is overturned.”

Iain Murray, CEI Senior Fellow:

“Courts deferring routinely to regulators’ interpretation of the law encourages them to aggregate power to themselves while depriving harmed parties of effective judicial remedies. Natural justice and due process require a judiciary that is more involved in determining what the law says. Chevron deference should be overturned as a matter of regulatory hygiene.”

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