June 28, 2024

Supreme Court Overrules Chevron Deference, Lets Courts Exercise Their Own Independent Judgment

Holland & Knight Alert
Lynn E. Calkins | Rich Gold | Zachary Lundgren | Kwamina Thomas Williford

The U.S. Supreme Court overruled Chevron deference in its decision in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo on June 28, 2024. Chevron – a central doctrine of administrative law – had stood since 1984.

In a 6-3 decision, the Court held that Chevron, which grants significant deference to agency interpretations of federal statutes, conflicts with the Administrative Procedure Act's (APA) command that courts, not agencies, are to "decide all relevant questions of law" and "interpret statutory provisions." Op. at 21.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts began his analysis by drawing upon the constitutional principle, echoed in Marbury v. Madison, that "[i]t is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is." Id. at 7. Historically, the Court noted that the judiciary afforded respect to executive branch interpretations of statutes, but such views could merely "inform the judgment of the Judiciary" and did not supersede it. Id. at 9.

The Court recognized that the APA "makes clear that agency interpretations of statutes – such as agency interpretations of the Constitution – are not entitled to deference." Id. at 14-15. The Court reiterated that courts, not agencies, have "special competence in resolving statutory ambiguities," and the Framers anticipated that courts would resolve them by exercising independent legal judgment. Id. at 23. Because Chevron "required judges to disregard their statutory duties," the Court overruled the landmark 1984 decision. Id. at 34.

Given the wide application of Chevron in administrative law over the past 40 years, it is anticipated that the full impact of today's holding will play out in courts, the legislature and administrative agencies for years to come.

For more information on the Court's decision, members of Holland & Knight's multidisciplinary Chevron Deference Working Team will present a Webinar: Post-Decision Chevron Conversation on Tuesday, July 9, 2024, to explore the scope and impact of the Supreme Court's ruling on Chevron deference.

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