Thu. Jun 20th, 2024

Supreme Court weighs conservative plea to weaken federal agencies

By 37ci3 Jan17,2024

WASHINGTON – The 40-year-old Supreme Court The precedent, which has become a bugbear on the right over the years, is seen as bolstering the power of federal agencies, as the current justices weigh in on Wednesday whether to overturn it.

The court, with a 6-3 conservative majority skeptical of the federal agency’s broad claims of authority, is hearing oral arguments in two related cases of fisheries regulation that questioned the validity of the 1984 decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council. made history.

Unfortunately, at the time of the ruling, Chevron won the Reagan administration’s regulatory efforts, and the court ruled that judges should defer to federal agencies in interpreting the law when the language of the law is ambiguous.

The ruling allowed the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward with a Clean Air Act regulation favorable to polluting facilities, drawing the ire of environmental groups who wanted the court to give the agency less leeway.

At the time, the EPA was headed by Anne Gorsuch, the mother of current Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, although she later left the position. scandal The lawsuit was filed when the organization managed pollution cleanup. Justice Görsuch has been one outspoken critic From the Chevron decision.

In practice, the ruling meant that both Democratic and Republican presidents could use the flexibility it gave agencies to implement new rules on a wide range of issues.

Decades later, with business interests and an ever more hostile attitude toward what conservatives call the “administrative state” precedent At least on the right, it has come to be seen as more useful to progressives than to conservatives who want to use federal agency power aggressively.

“Really, the opposite party’s mission is to make it very, very difficult to pass laws that create effective programs that respond to today’s challenges. That’s the real goal [to] reduce the power of the federal government,” said David Doniger, an environmental lawyer who argued in 1984 and lost.

Environmental groups and others on the left hope the ruling will remain in place so agencies can tackle tough issues like climate change, especially if major legislation from Congress fails to pass.

Jonathan Adler, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, said there has always been disagreement among lawyers and academics about how courts should apply the Chevron decision.

“It’s been rumbling for a while, but there’s certainly a concern on the right that … agencies aren’t following Congressional directives so faithfully, they’re trying to find ways to do what they want to do,” he said. he said.

But, he added, “the question is whether we need to overrule Chevron to arrest this dynamic.”

The Supreme Court has already addressed the issue of agencies exercising broad powers without clear guidance from Congress in recent rulings that struck down President Joe Biden’s plan to reduce federal student loan debt and blocked his Covid vaccine or testing requirement for larger businesses. EPA’s authority to limit carbon emissions from power plants.

Those cases did not rely on a Chevron analysis, but rather simply said that matters of broad national effect must require express authorization from Congress, an approach known as the “fundamental questions doctrine.”

Both cases discussed Wednesday are calls for less sweeping government regulation that would require fishing vessels to help collect scientific data to help protect and manage fisheries.

The court heard appeals filed by operators of Atlantic herring fishing vessels challenging the 2020 rule that applied to the New England fishery. In both cases, lower courts ruled for the federal government.

Opponents say the National Marine Fisheries Service, the federal agency that oversees ocean resources, lacks regulatory authority under the applicable law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act of 1976.

The rule implements a monitoring program that vessel operators must fund. Opponents argue that operators will have to pay up to $710 a day at certain times for independent observers to board their ships and monitor their operations. Opponents say the cost would be a significant burden on small business operators.

The fishing dispute is one of several cases in the current term in which judges are considering attacks on the power of a federal agency led by business interests and the conservative legal establishment.

The composition of the court itself reflects another front in the war, with the Trump administration handpicking judicial nominees based in part on its own nominees. hostility to the federal bureaucracy. The Supreme Court’s conservative majority includes three Trump appointees, including Gorsuch.

“There’s really a consistent plan here where judicial selection and deregulation are flip sides of the same coin,” Trump White House adviser Don McGahn said. Conservative Political Action Conference in 2018.

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By 37ci3

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