Supreme Court shocks bureaucrats with decision canceling agency powers

By Bob Unruh

U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. (Image by Mark Thomas from Pixabay)
U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

The United States Supreme Court on Friday shocked bureaucrats across the nation by shredding the longstanding “Chevron” doctrine and leaving the powers agencies hold over American people in tatters.

That theory had given government employees much power, as they were given the right to set rules and regulations that Americans were required to follow.

Chief Justice John Roberts, in a 6-3 majority, said, “Chevron is overruled.”

A huge change now will take place in how courts handle challenges to government action, as they no longer are required to give “deference” to agency regulations, decisions and demands.

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The Washington Examiner explained, “The ruling came from one of two cases challenging a rule by the National Marine Fisheries Service that required the herring industry to bear the costs of government observers on fishing boats. The doctrine, established nearly 40 years ago in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, directed the courts to defer to an agency’s reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous statute. However, the Supreme Court’s decision signifies a major shift in administrative law.”

There had been growing skepticism of Chevron for a long time, including when Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas notified the court of their concerns of what damages the practice inflicted during arguments months ago.

The report said, “The ruling may result in significant uncertainty and legal challenges as lower courts and federal agencies adjust to the new legal landscape. Although legal experts largely predicted the 6-3 Republican-appointed Supreme Court would weaken Chevron, the justices had not relied on the precedent in its rulings since 2016.”

The rules that are applied to Americans regarding the environment, securities issues, and more, now will face a higher level of review by courts.

Roberts’ opinion was joined by Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett while the three leftists on the court, Ketanji Jackson, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan voted to keep massive power in the hands of the administrative state.

The court found that, “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.

“Article III of the Constitution assigns to the Federal Judiciary the responsibility and power to adjudicate ‘Cases’ and ‘Controversies’—concrete disputes with consequences for the parties involved. The Framers appreciated that the laws judges would necessarily apply in resolving those disputes would not always be clear, but envisioned that the final ‘interpretation of the laws’ would be ‘the proper and peculiar province of the courts.'”

It continued, “As Chief Justice Marshall declared in the foundational decision of Marbury v. Madison, ‘[i]t is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.'”

Judges, for decades acted to interpret the acts of Congress while recognizing that due respect was appropriate for executive branch interpretations.

However, the ruling said, “The views of the executive branch could inform the judgment of the Judiciary, but did not supersede it.”

The current fight was over fishing.

“Before 1976, unregulated foreign vessels dominated fishing in the international waters off the U. S. coast, which began just 12 nautical miles offshore. Recognizing the resultant overfishing and the need for sound management of fishery resources, Congress enacted the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). The MSA and subsequent amendments extended the jurisdiction of the United States to 200 nautical miles beyond the U. S. territorial sea and claimed ‘exclusive fishery management authority over all fish’ within that area, known as the ‘exclusive economic zone.'”

Part of the enforcement of that law includes that “one or more observers be carried on board” domestic vessels “for the purpose of collecting data necessary for the conservation and management of the fishery.”

At first, herring fishermen were not charged for the “costs” of those observers, but soon the rule was changed administratively to demand payments, costs estimated at $710 per day.

That was affirmed, based on the Chevron precedent’s call for “deference” to government interpretations.

The case is Loper Bright Enterprises et al v. Raimondo, secretary of commerce.

The ruling ended up favoring fishermen who said Chevron gave the administrative state too much power.

Chevron, a decision from the 1980s, called on courts to let agency bureaucrats’ decisions to stand most of the time.

“How do we determine how much deference is too much deference? How do we know where the line is?” asked Justice Clarence Thomas during oral arguments earlier.

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