July 3, 2024

Supreme Court Pulls Back on Chevron Doctrine

This court is making it a habit of striking down old precedents.

The latest to fall is the 1984 Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council ruling.

The court ruled 6-3 to overrule that landmark decision.

Striking It Down

As we expected, the ruling came down along ideological lines, with all three liberal justices dissenting and six conservative justices ruling to strike down the former ruling.

To this point, the decision had been left in place because the interpretation of the ruling by the government had always been reasonable.

That changed when the National Marine Fisheries Service got out of hand with an excessive fee of $710 per day for herring boats to help fund putting observers on the boats to monitor fishing and collect data.

In his majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “Mere reliance on Chevron cannot constitute a ‘special justification’ for overruling” a decision upholding agency action, “because to say a precedent relied on Chevron is, at best, just an argument that the precedent was wrongly decided.”

In Justice Thomas’ opinion, he cites blatant overreach by the government, which was at the heart of the challenge by the fishing industry, citing that the daily fee was in excess of what some of these boats were making in profit each day.

Gorsuch wrote one of the longer opinions, clearly happy that the Chevron precedent was getting demolished.

In part, he wrote, “[T]oday, the Court places a tombstone on Chevron no one can miss. In doing so, the Court returns judges to interpretative rules that have guided federal courts since the Nation’s founding.”

He added, “All today’s decision means is that, going forward, federal courts will do exactly as this Court has since 2016, exactly as it did before the mid-1980s, and exactly as it had done since the founding: resolve cases and controversies without any systemic bias in the government’s favor.”

As one would expect, most of the liberal dissents talked about a major shock to the system in pulling back federal powers.

I have to say… that does not upset me one bit.

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