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Supreme Court Decision Limits Federal Regulatory Agencies’ Power

On Friday, the Supreme Court overturned a landmark 40-year-old decision that had granted federal agencies broad regulatory power, restricting their authority to issue regulations unless Congress has spoken clearly.

This ruling marks a significant victory for those who have long criticized the excessive power of unelected federal bureaucrats over critical aspects of American life, such as the environment, workplace, and healthcare.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, stated that courts must now exercise independent judgment in determining whether an agency has acted within its statutory authority. He described this move as correcting a "judicial invention" that previously required judges to defer to agency interpretations of congressional laws if deemed reasonable.

In her dissent, Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson, argued that the majority's decision grants the judiciary excessive control over regulatory interpretations, traditionally handled by agencies with specific expertise. Kagan contended that this shift would burden courts with complex, policy-driven issues and undermine the legislative intent of delegating such decisions to specialized agencies.

The case that prompted the reevaluation of the 1984 decision in Chevron v. National Resources Defense Council stems from a 2020 federal regulation that required owners of vessels in the Atlantic herring fishery to pay for monitors while they were at sea. Fishing companies contested this rule, arguing that the National Marine Fisheries Service overstepped its authority.

The Biden administration and proponents of the 1984 Chevron doctrine warned that limiting this framework would hinder federal agencies' ability to implement laws effectively, given their specialized knowledge and capacity to address legislative gaps.

This Supreme Court decision is expected to lead to increased legal challenges against long-standing agency regulations and a more significant judicial role in the administrative process, potentially impacting regulatory areas like climate change, healthcare, and technology.


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