Supreme Court overturns Chevron decision in a blow to regulators

Federal regulators had their power diminished by the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative justices, in a 6-3 decision, overturned the 40-year-old Chevron decision, which made it easier for federal agencies to regulate areas such as the environment, public health, workplace safety, and consumer protections. 

This ruling was a significant victory for business interests and signifies a shift in regulatory authority.


Why it matters: The heart of the Chevron decision allowed federal agencies to interpret laws when they were not clear, filling in details as needed. 

  • Many conservatives had targeted this decision, arguing that such power should reside with judges and not government experts.

The big picture: Chief Justice John Roberts stated that it is the role of the courts to independently assess whether agencies are acting within their statutory authority, emphasizing the need for judicial oversight in decisions about regulatory control.

The other side: Justice Elena Kagan dissented, expressing concerns over the majority’s decision to limit agency authority. 

  • She criticized the move as another instance of the Court rolling back agency powers despite congressional directives.

Driving the news: The shift in the Court’s stance on the Chevron doctrine reflects a broader conservatism that is skeptical of federal agency power. 

  • Justices Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Thomas, and Barrett, who formed the majority, questioned the Chevron decision, with their decision now signaling a change in the regulatory landscape.
  • The decision was met with both support and criticism. While businesses and conservatives welcomed the ruling as a blow against overreaching regulations, environmental groups, health advocates, civil rights organizations, and Democrats voiced concerns about the potential impacts on public safety and regulatory authority.
  • Environmental and civil rights groups cautioned that the ruling could undermine essential regulations and shift power toward corporations seeking profit at the expense of public interest. 
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