Supreme Court overturns Chevron doctrine, progressive democrats push for urgent legislative response

Supreme Court’s seismic decision strips federal agencies of interpretive authority, sparking immediate legislative action from progressive lawmakers to safeguard public health, labor rights, and environmental protections.

261
SOURCENationofChange

The Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn the Chevron deference doctrine has sent shockwaves through the political and regulatory landscape, igniting a swift response from progressive lawmakers. The Court ruled 6-3 along ideological lines to dismantle the 40-year-old doctrine, fundamentally altering how federal regulatory power is administered.

Chevron deference, established in the 1984 Supreme Court decision Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, has long empowered federal agencies to interpret ambiguous laws within their purview. This doctrine allowed agencies with technical and scientific expertise to make informed decisions on complex regulatory issues. It has been a cornerstone of judicial decision-making, cited frequently in federal courts.

In the landmark cases of Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled to end this precedent. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, argued that courts, not agencies, should resolve statutory ambiguities, asserting that agencies lack special competence in this area.

“Perhaps most fundamentally, Chevron’s presumption is misguided because agencies have no special competence in resolving statutory ambiguities. Courts do,” Roberts stated. He acknowledged that maintaining Chevron deference curtailed judicial power, which the Court viewed as an impediment to its decision-making authority over laws. This ruling arrives at a time when the Supreme Court, dominated by a conservative majority, has been expanding its influence over federal policies.

Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson, delivered a dissenting opinion, criticizing the majority for undermining judicial humility and disregarding the principle of stare decisis. Kagan argued that the majority’s decision transforms the Court into an “administrative czar” with excessive control over regulatory matters.

“The majority’s justification comes down, in the end, to this: Courts must have more say over regulation — over the provision of health care, the protection of the environment, the safety of consumer products, the efficacy of transportation systems, and so on,” Kagan wrote. She warned that the decision represents a blatant power grab by the judiciary, endangering longstanding regulatory protections.

The ruling has been celebrated by conservative judicial activists and corporations, who have long campaigned to overturn Chevron deference. However, it has also triggered immediate legislative action from progressive lawmakers determined to protect the regulatory authority of federal agencies.

Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) voiced strong opposition to the Court’s decision, highlighting the potential dangers it poses to public welfare. “Now, with this ill-advised decision, judges must no longer defer to the decisions about Americans’ health, safety, and welfare made by agencies with technical and scientific expertise in their fields,” Markey stated. He pledged to introduce legislation to restore the regulatory powers that existed under Chevron deference.

Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Progressive Caucus, called the ruling “dangerous” and urged Congress to pass the Stop Corporate Capture Act, which she introduced in March 2023. Jayapal emphasized that this act is the only bill that codifies Chevron deference, strengthens the federal-agency rulemaking process, and ensures that regulations are guided by public interest rather than corporate profit.

The Stop Corporate Capture Act seeks to codify Chevron by providing statutory authority for courts to defer to agency interpretations of ambiguous federal laws. Key provisions of the act include:

• Requiring the disclosure of funding sources for studies submitted during regulatory comment periods.

• Restricting federal agencies’ involvement in negotiated rulemaking processes.

• Establishing an Office of the Public Advocate to enhance public participation in regulatory crafting.

• Imposing fines on companies that knowingly lie during the comment period on proposed regulations.

• Allowing agencies to reissue rules rescinded under the Congressional Review Act.

The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, a group of over 160 organizations advocating for stronger public protections, also called on Congress to pass the Stop Corporate Capture Act. The coalition described the bill as a comprehensive blueprint for modernizing and strengthening the regulatory system to better protect the public.

Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen and co-chair of the coalition, criticized the Supreme Court’s decision, stating, “This decision is a gift to big corporations, making it easier for them to challenge rules to ensure clean air and water, safe workplaces and products, and fair commercial and financial practices.” Weissman urged regulators to continue fulfilling their missions to protect consumers, workers, and the environment despite the ruling.

Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) echoed these sentiments, condemning the decision as a power grab by the “corrupt Supreme Court” influenced by corporate interests. Tlaib called for sweeping reforms to hold the Court accountable and preserve regulatory protections.

FALL FUNDRAISER

If you liked this article, please donate $5 to keep NationofChange online through November.

COMMENTS