Dozens of congressional GOP lawmakers led by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., are calling on the Supreme Court to curtail the administrative state’s power through a rollback of the 1984 Chevron decision.
On Monday, McCarthy filed an amicus brief by the House general counsel on behalf of the lower chamber supporting a legal challenge to the nearly 40-year precedent that gives federal agencies wide latitude to interpret congressional statutes.
“As part of our Commitment to America, House Republicans pledged to hold Washington accountable,” McCarthy said in a statement. “The Chevron framework makes it easier for unelected bureaucrats to weaponize federal regulations against the American people. The Court should rein in the power of unelected bureaucrats and restore the separation of powers.”
In May, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, setting the stage for a landmark decision that could narrow the scope of bureaucratic agencies to unilaterally impose burdensome rules and regulations. The conservative majority on the court led by Chief Justice John Roberts already signaled its willingness to “rein in” the administrative state last summer with its decision in EPA v. West Virginia. In that case, justices struck down the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, ruling the Constitution did not allow federal agencies to circumvent Congress by implementing broad regulations to wide effect.
In 1984, the Supreme Court established “Chevron deference” in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, broadly defined as allowing administrative agencies to substitute their own interpretation of congressional statutes when a particular issue is implicit. Justices on the current court have debated whether the 1984 case law has been properly interpreted. Regardless, Republicans say its application has been abused by a burgeoning administrative state run by unelected bureaucrats.
Three dozen lawmakers, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., filed another brief on Monday in support of a challenge to the Chevron ruling. The brief includes 18 total signatories from the upper chamber, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and 18 from the House.
“Decades of application of Chevron deference have facilitated the exercise of functions by the executive branch that more properly belong to the legislative and judicial branches,” the brief reads. “Agencies exploit general or broad terms in statutes to engage in policymaking functions of questionable legality with the assumption that courts will grant deference and not independently evaluate the lawfulness of those agency interpretations.”
The court will revisit the nearly four-decade-old doctrine in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, with New Jersey fishermen objecting to rules from the Commerce Department that would force commercial fishing vessels to pay federal observers. Such on-board monitoring could cost more than $700 a day and about a fifth of fishermen’s profits, according to the Cause of Action Institute, which is representing the plaintiffs.