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SCOTUS Overturns Chevron Doctrine, Restricting Federal Agency Authority

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The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Chevron doctrine on Friday in Loper Bright Enterprises et. al. v. Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce, et. al., dealing a significant blow to federal agencies. In a 6-3 decision, the high court overturned the 1984 ruling in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, which had mandated that federal courts defer to agencies' reasonable interpretations of ambiguous statutes.

"The Administrative Procedure Act requires courts to exercise their independent judgment in deciding whether an agency has acted within its statutory authority, and courts may not defer to an agency interpretation of the law simply because a statute is ambiguous," the high court ruled.

The decision to eliminate Chevron could have major implications for regulatory bodies such as the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Office for Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

Federal agencies will "likely face more challenges to their rules and regulations" and "the agencies might publish fewer and more modest regulations going forward," labor and employment firm Littler explained in a blog post earlier this year. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Elena Kagan stated that the Chevron decision has "served as a cornerstone of administrative law" for 40 years.

"Congress knows that it does not — in fact cannot — write perfectly complete regulatory statutes. It knows that those statutes will inevitably contain ambiguities that some other actor will have to resolve, and gaps that some other actor will have to fill. And it would usually prefer that actor to be the responsible agency, not a court," Kagan wrote. "A rule of judicial humility gives way to a rule of judicial hubris. In recent years, this Court has too often taken for itself decision-making authority Congress assigned to agencies."

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