Rule of Law

RELEASE: In Flagrant Judicial Power Grab, Court Discards Chevron Doctrine, Undermining Congress and Agencies, and Threatening Government Programs that Protect Americans

WASHINGTON, DC – Following today’s decision at the Supreme Court in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce, two cases in which the Court was considering whether to alter or overrule the Chevron doctrine, a legal framework requiring judges to defer to agencies’ reasonable interpretations of ambiguous laws, Constitutional Accountability Center Appellate Counsel Miriam Becker-Cohen issued the following reaction:

If there were any lingering doubt that this Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority is on a brazen mission to overturn longstanding precedents that don’t align with its ideological goals, today’s decision in Loper Bright should put it to rest. The Court today overturned a forty-year-old precedent handed down by a unanimous Court that, at bottom, recognized that politically accountable experts rather than judges with life tenure should have primary authority over policy decisions that affect the American people.

Today’s decision is contrary to fundamental separation of powers principles enshrined in our Constitution. It also rests on a misunderstanding of the Administrative Procedure Act’s judicial review provision—that provision does not demand overruling Chevron, as Justice Kagan explained in dissent. Rather, today’s “overhauling [of] a cornerstone of administrative law” is “entirely the majority’s choice.”

As we explained in our amicus brief on behalf of scholars of administrative law and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), including Ronald M. Levin, whose work was cited repeatedly in Justice Kagan’s powerful dissent, the APA does not dictate the analytical framework that judges must use to decide questions of law. Yet both immediately before and after the APA was enacted in 1946, the Supreme Court regularly decided those questions by deferring to agencies’ reasonable interpretations when faced with statutory ambiguity. By rejecting that approach today, the Court in fact has upended judicial practice dating back much further than 1984, the year that Chevron was decided.

In the weeks and months ahead, judges, advocates, and government leaders will all grapple with what today’s decision means for the future of critical regulations—rules that ensure the safety of the water we drink and the air we breathe, that protect workers from discrimination and wage theft, and that hold corporations accountable for abusive consumer practices. This is all because, as Justice Kagan put it, “today’s majority has lost sight of its proper role.”



Case page in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo:

Miriam Becker-Cohen, Why the Chevron Deference Is Needed, Washington Post,