Supreme Court Overrules Chevron Deference Doctrine

On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, decided two cases (combined into one opinion) and ultimately overruled the decades-long precedent of Chevron deference. In the decisions, Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless v. Department of Commerce, the Supreme Court held that the Chevron doctrine, which required federal courts to defer to administrative agencies’ interpretations of ambiguous or broad statutes, was inconsistent with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). In its majority opinion, the Court also cited the foundational constitutional law case Marbury v. Madison, which held that it is the role of the courts to “say what the law is.” Instead, the Supreme Court held that any court reviewing an agency rule or order “shall decide all relevant questions of law” and “interpret constitutional and statutory provisions” in alignment with Section 706 of the APA that states that courts, not agencies, decide “all relevant questions of law.” Interestingly, the Court held that its decision could not be applied retroactively to prior court decisions that relied on Chevron deference. The Court also noted that some statutes express specifically a delegated authority to an agency during the rulemaking process, this delegation is not impacted by the Court’s ruling in these two cases. The Court’s 6-3 decision (split along party lines) will have long-lasting impacts on agency rulemakings, enforcement actions, and appeals.

Click here to read a Morgan Lewis client alert covering the Supreme Court decisions.
Click here to read the Supreme Court’s decision in Loper and Relentless.