Regulatory Reform

SCOTUS Ends Chevron: ALEC Task Force Directors React

Chevron deference met its demise after the federal government overstepped its boundaries by targeting our nation’s fishing fleet.

On June 28, the Supreme Court decided Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, overturning one of the largest SCOTUS precedents ever made on judicial interpretation matters: the Chevron doctrine.

Below, ALEC task force directors give their reactions to the ruling.

Gretchen Baldau, Senior Director, ALEC Task Force on Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development:

For 40 years, Chevron deference blurred the separation of powers built into America’s system of government. Requiring federal courts to defer to agency authority essentially pinned one of the judiciary’s hands behind its back and hampered its ability to restrain overreaches from executive branch agencies. Now, the Chevron era is over.

With last week’s Loper decision, the Supreme Court reclaimed authority from unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats and restored it back into the hands of the three main branches of government. The deference cycle previously allowed and sometimes forced each branch to deflect accountability; now, the branches are again more accountable to each other and, more importantly, to the American people. Time, new legislation, and many court cases will determine the full impact of this monumental decision.

Joe Trotter, Director, ALEC Task Force on Energy, Environment and Agriculture:

Overbroad, ever-changing federal regulation is endemic in the energy, environment, and agriculture space. Whether it is broad re-interpretations of the Clean Air Act targeting legacy power generation facilities for closure or finding destructive new ways to re-interpret the Clean Water Act to give federal jurisdiction over farmers’ drainage ditches, Chevron deference acted as a shield for legislating through regulation.

As such, it is extremely fitting that Chevron deference met its demise after the federal government overstepped its boundaries by targeting our nation’s fishing fleet, demanding through vague interpretations that they must pay the salaries of federal inspectors while living on their vessels. Farmers, fishermen, and others whose livelihoods depend on the bounty of the earth understand the benefits of sound, grounded policy respecting the environment more than anyone, but, in this case, federal regulation went so far beyond the bounds of reason it had to be stopped.

While this is a win for states and people harmed by regulatory overreach, it is also a message to Congress and state legislatures across the country that using precise language to convey the full intent of legislation is more important than ever. This decision is an important step to re-balancing out-of-control executive power between legislatures and the judicial branches of government, but it also signals to legislators that if the laws they write are ambiguous, the final say in their interpretation is in the hands of the judges.

Nino Marchese, Director, ALEC Task Forces on Civil Justice and Criminal Justice:

Thanks to one of the Supreme Court’s most recent decisions in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, the federal judiciary can finally breathe, as the 40-year-old doctrine known as Chevron deference has been overturned. No longer forcing federal courts to defer to agency rule interpretations of the law, they have now reclaimed their exclusive Article III privilege of judicial power and interpretation of the laws.

Chevron created an artificial legal reality in respect to how much power the executive branch truly has: when federal rules stretched beyond what Congress created and allowed for, those rules could still hold the same weight of law, given the mandated judicial deference. Not only did this minimize the core interpretive function of the federal judiciary, but it also granted federal agencies (and bureaucrats who cannot be voted out) an immense, de-facto law-making power. Chevron is a case which has contravened the separations of powers between the three branches for the past 40 years.

Now, courts are not only able to conduct de novo review of agency rules, but also, they are more equipped to push back on federal agencies when they go too far; the third branch can better check the second—and as intended. This should come as a relief to those who value our system of separated powers and appreciate the federal judiciary’s legal interpretation responsibility; it will also be a relief to many Americans harmed by federal rules and regulations. The peoples’ avenue of recourse against unelected bureaucrats who attempt to rule away their liberty is now clearer and more fair.

In Depth: Regulatory Reform

In his first inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson said that “the sum of good government” was one “which shall restrain men from injuring one another” and “shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry.” Sadly, governments – both federal and state – have ignored this axiom and…

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