This article was updated January 19, 2024
This week, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases (Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce and Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo) that challenge a precedent established 40 years ago known as “Chevron Deference.” The doctrine gives federal agencies latitude to develop regulations with courts ‘deferring’ to agency expertise that is a “reasonable” interpretation of ambiguous laws, not deciding questions of policy unless there is a clear breach of law or the Constitution. The challengers assert Chevron Deference should be overturned because it impermissibly shifts interpretative authority—which is the sole purview of courts—from the judicial branch to agencies.
In an interview with Bloomberg Law, partner Tina Van Bockern noted that the Supreme Court has already cut back on Chevron and its applications in recent years. “Courts and litigants have seen the writing on the wall,” Van Bockern said, and so there’s “been a stark decline in reliance” on Chevron.
In an interview with States Newsroom, Van Bockern shared that during the lengthy oral arguments, the court’s conservative majority was poised to at least severely limit the 1984 doctrine, adding “If I was going to have to put a bet on it, I’d say Chevron deference is going to hit the chopping block,” “It could just be severely limited. But there’s a good chance it could be eliminated.” She also added “Though such a decision could be seen as part of a trend of a conservative Supreme Court in recent years stripping powers away from the federal government, the practical impact might be less than some observers have expected” because “In recent years, perhaps expecting a weakening of Chevron deference, agencies have moved away from it as a legal strategy and instead relied more on their subject-matter expertise.”
On the prospects for Chevron doctrine to stand, Van Bockern told Yahoo Finance, "I think it’s pretty obvious that Chevron is at risk." Speaking with Axios, she shared that although Justice Barrett's questions indicated a possible compromise, in all likelihood "Chevron deference will be a thing of the past."
Read Bloomberg Law’s “Supreme Court Eyes World War II Era Doctrine for Agency Rules,” January 19, 2024 (subscription required)
Read States Newsroom’s "N.J. fishing company at center of case before U.S. Supreme Court challenging agency powers,” January 18, 2024
Read Yahoo Finance’s “The power of federal agencies is under threat in key Supreme Court case,” January 18, 2024
Read Section 4 of Axios' newsletter titled, "Court signals readiness to overturn Chevron deference," January 18, 2024