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SCOTUS Overturns 40-Year-Old Chevron Decision, Signaling Major Shift in Regulatory Power

 |  June 30, 2024

On Friday, the Supreme Court dismantled a precedent that had stood for four decades, significantly altering the landscape of federal regulation. The decision, which overruled the 1984 Chevron ruling, was a major victory for business interests and a blow to the regulatory state, reported the Associated Press News.

In a 6-3 decision, the court’s conservative majority voted to overturn the Chevron decision, which had allowed federal agencies to interpret ambiguous laws. This principle had enabled agencies to regulate various sectors, including the environment, public health, workplace safety, and consumer protections, without needing explicit authorization from Congress for every action.

The Chevron decision has long been a target for conservatives, who viewed it as an overreach of executive power. By giving federal agencies the authority to fill in the details of broadly written laws, Chevron was seen by its critics as transferring legislative power to unelected bureaucrats. The court’s liberal justices dissented, warning that the ruling could undermine the effectiveness of regulatory agencies.

This decision represents the most pronounced repudiation yet by the conservative-dominated court of what critics derisively call the “administrative state.” The implications of this ruling are vast, with billions of dollars potentially at stake in future legal challenges, as industries and businesses may now have stronger grounds to contest regulations imposed by federal agencies.

The Biden administration had cautioned against such a drastic shift. The administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer argued that overturning Chevron would create significant uncertainty and disrupt the legal system. The essence of the Chevron doctrine was to allow experts within federal agencies to interpret and implement complex laws, a role that some believe is better suited to those with specialized knowledge rather than the judiciary.

This ruling is expected to trigger a wave of litigation as businesses and industry groups seek to challenge existing regulations that were based on agency interpretations of ambiguous statutes. The outcome of these cases could reshape the regulatory environment in the United States, potentially rolling back protections and standards that have been in place for decades.

Source: Associated Press News