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Supreme Court Delivers Major Blow To Federal Agencies

Jul 4, 2024

The Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision in June to overturn a 40-year precedent that allowed sweeping authority over regulation implementation by federal agencies.

The decision came as part of the Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo case, which is seen as overturning the 1984 Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council precedent that “gave federal agencies broad authority to implement regulations under ambiguous language unless Congress had explicitly prohibited such rules,” according to The Federalist.

The 1984 ruling gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to enforce the Clean Air Act. But the language of the ruling also gave “federal bureaucrats” the leniency to interpret the law into whatever Congress authorized agencies to do, the outlet argued.

What Does This Ruling Mean?

In his opinion on the ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the “courts must exercise their independent judgment in deciding whether an agency has acted within its statutory authority.” (LEARN MORE: Supreme Court Makes Huge Decision On Bump Stocks)

“Courts, after all, routinely confront statutory ambiguities in cases having nothing to do with Chevron — cases that do not involve agency interpretations or delegations of authority,” Roberts wrote. “Of course, when faced with a statutory ambiguity in such a case, the ambiguity is not a delegation to anybody, and a court is not somehow relieved of its obligation to independently interpret the statute.”

“Courts in that situation do not throw up their hands because ‘Congress’s instructions have’ supposedly ‘run out,’ leaving a statutory ‘gap,’” the chief justice added.

“Courts instead understand that such statutes, no matter how impenetrable, do — in fact, must — have a single, best meaning. That is the whole point of having written statutes; ‘every statute’s meaning is fixed at the time of enactment.’” (LEARN MORE: China Could ‘Overwhelm’ US Military Bases)

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