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Chevron doctrine overturned: Republicans, big business praise Supreme Court decision

Michael A. Mccoy | Getty Images
  • Republican lawmakers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce praised the Supreme Court's overturning of Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council.
  • The Chevron doctrine for 40 years held that judges should defer to federal agencies' interpretation of the law when a statute's language wasn't clear.
  • The new ruling limits the power of federal agency regulators.
Birds fly outside the U.S. Supreme Court on the day justices issue orders in pending appeals in Washington, U.S., June 24, 2024. 
Nathan Howard | Reuters
Birds fly outside the U.S. Supreme Court on the day justices issue orders in pending appeals in Washington, U.S., June 24, 2024. 

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Republican lawmakers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce praised the Supreme Court decision Friday overturning the so-called Chevron doctrine, which for four decades led judges to defer to how federal agencies interpreted a law when its language wasn't clear.

GOP lawmakers said the 6-3 decision by the Supreme Court undid a precedent that they argued had unjustly strengthened the power of unelected government officials.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said, "The Constitution vests Congress with the sole authority to make law."

"After 40 years of Chevron deference, the Supreme Court made it clear today that our system of government leaves no room for an unelected bureaucracy to co-opt this authority for itself," McConnell said. "The days of federal agencies filling in the legislative blanks are rightly over."

And Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne Clark, in a statement, said, "Today's decision is an important course correction that will help create a more predictable and stable regulatory environment."

Clark added the high court's prior Chevron rule "allowed each new presidential administration to advance their political agendas through flip-flopping regulations and not provide consistent rules of the road for businesses to navigate, plan, and invest in the future."

Jeff Holmstead, a lawyer at the Bracewell firm who previously served as Air Office administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, in a statement predicted the ruling "will certainly change the way that agencies make regulations."

Holmstead said that in the four decades in which the Chevron doctrine was in effect, agencies sometimes started "with a regulatory program in mind and then try to come up with a plausible" interpretation of existing law to justify it, "hoping the courts will find it 'permissible.'"

"Going forward, they'll need to start with the statutory language and decide what Congress actually wanted them to do," he said.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., told Fox News that the new decision in the case known as Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo is a "huge victory for the American people, constitutional government and the rule of law."

"It's a huge blow to the administrative state in Washington, D.C. No one elects bureaucrats to make these decisions," Cotton said of the decision, which overturned the Supreme Court's ruling in 1984 in a case known as Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council.

Democrats, on the other hand, condemned the ruling, accusing the Supreme Court's conservative majority of bolstering its own authority.

Senate Majority Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said, "In overruling Chevron, the Trump MAGA Supreme Court has once again sided with powerful special interests and giant corporations against the middle class and American families."

"Their headlong rush to overturn 40 years of precedent and impose their own radical views is appalling," Schumer said.

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler. D-N.Y., said, "Today's decision provides yet more proof that the far-right supermajority on the Supreme Court will cast aside whatever precedent it wants in its quest to increase its own power and that of its MAGA allies across the country."

Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO — the largest federation of labor unions in the U.S. — warned of the ruling's repercussions on agencies concerned with workers' rights.

"Extremist politicians and their corporate allies have schemed for decades to undermine regulatory agencies, and this disheartening decision is a huge gift to those same interests," Shuler said in a statement. "Today, a right-wing supermajority on the Supreme Court has eroded the federal government's ability to ensure that the law is enforced and that working people are protected."

Calling the ruling "deeply troubling," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that President Joe Biden "has directed his legal team to work with the Department of Justice and other agency counsel to review today's decision carefully."

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