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What the End of the Chevron Deference Means

Posted July 03, 2024

Sean Ring

By Sean Ring

What the End of the Chevron Deference Means

I won’t lie to you: before this week, I had no idea what the “Chevron deference” was. I thought it was some advanced legalese that didn’t concern me at all.

And then I heard it: the pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office… it was all there, as if Hamlet finally got on with his damn soliloquy.

Freedom fighters gathered around the X campfire and bragged about how great it was that SCOTUS should make such a decision to end the Chevron deference.

What was the Chevron deference?

It was the pisspoor decision of the 1984 version of the SCOTUS that gave federal agencies the power to interpret ambiguous laws. In plain English, it gave the agencies the license to consider themselves experts.

I know what you’re thinking: why would anyone consider any government employee or agency an expert in anything but bureaucracy?

I share your confusion. But that was the case. The agencies, God help us, were deemed experts by a nine-person judiciary that had no idea if those people were experts (highly unlikely) or not (a near certainty).

Let’s do this properly.

The Chevron Deference

The Chevron deference, named after the 1984 Supreme Court case Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., was a legal doctrine that required courts to defer to a federal agency's interpretation of an ambiguous or unclear statute that the agency administers.

Why is any legislature allowed to create ambiguous statutes?

I don’t know!

Why would any agency interpret a statute that was ambiguous?

This “deference” allowed them to interpret the statute without any real danger of lawsuits.

Under Chevron, as long as the agency's interpretation was “reasonable,” courts were bound to accept it, even if the court believed a different interpretation was more reasonable.

And what’s the definition of “reasonable” in this case?

I don’t know!

Yet, this doctrine has been the cornerstone of administrative law for nearly four decades, giving federal agencies vast power to shape the laws they enforce. Yes, they create and enforce, which, by my math, violates the concept of “checks and balances.”

Of oourse, the doctrine has also been a magnet for criticism, with opponents rightly arguing that it undermines the separation of powers, erodes individual liberties, and promotes an unchecked administrative state.

Last week, in a decision that sent waves through the Swamp, the Supreme Court overturned “The Chevron Deference,” as it’s now called.

It’s huge – with a capital “Y” – because it marks a significant shift in the balance of power between the federal government and the people, and it couldn't have come at a more critical time. It’s a resounding victory for those who believe in limited government, individual freedom, and the rule of law.

The Rise of the Skynet State

To understand why the Chevron deference was so problematic, it's essential to grasp the rise of the administrative state in the United States. Over the past century, the federal government has expanded dramatically, with a growing number of agencies wielding significant regulatory power. These agencies, staffed by unelected bureaucrats, have the authority to issue rules and regulations that carry the force of law, impacting nearly every aspect of American life.

The Chevron deference was the Miracle-Gro for this expansion. It allowed agencies to interpret ambiguous statutes without meaningful judicial oversight. This deference effectively shifted power away from the judiciary, which is constitutionally tasked with interpreting the law, and placed it in the hands of federal agencies. These agencies “Chia-petted” their way into bloated administrative disasters.

The Erosion of Individual Liberties

One of the most troubling aspects of the Chevron deference was its impact on individual liberties. By granting agencies the power to interpret ambiguous laws, Chevron allowed bureaucrats to create and enforce regulations that infringed upon personal freedoms. This dynamic was particularly concerning in environmental regulation, healthcare, and financial oversight, where agency rules often had far-reaching consequences for individuals and businesses.

For example, consider the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has used its Chevron-enabled authority to implement sweeping regulations on air and water quality. While some of these regulations have improved environmental outcomes, others have imposed significant burdens on industries and individuals without statutory backing. The same can be said for agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Gorgeous Gary Gensler’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which have used the Chevron deference to justify expansive interpretations of their regulatory mandates.

This regulatory band-aid getting ripped off may send Bitcoin to six figures.

The Threat to the Rule of Law

The lack of accountability was particularly evident in cases where agencies issued regulations that contradicted clear legislative intent.

Under Chevron, as long as the agency's interpretation was deemed "reasonable," courts were compelled to uphold it, even if it conflicted with the plain language of the statute. This deference effectively insulated agencies from judicial review, allowing them to operate with near-unchecked authority.

A Return to Constitutional Principles

The Supreme Court's decision to overturn Chevron marks a significant step toward restoring constitutional principles and reining in the administrative state. This decision ensures agencies will no longer exceed their statutory authority without facing meaningful judicial oversight.

In its ruling, the Court emphasized the importance of maintaining the separation of powers, a critical principle of the Constitution. By curbing the power of federal agencies, the decision reinforces the idea that laws should be made by elected representatives in Congress, not by unelected bureaucrats.

Implications for the Future

The decision to restore the judiciary's role in interpreting the law will likely lead to a more balanced and accountable regulatory system. Federal agencies will need to be more careful in crafting regulations, knowing that their interpretations will face rigorous judicial scrutiny.

And don’t get too excited, but this decision could pave the way for further reforms to reduce the administrative state's size and scope. Lawmakers and policymakers who advocate limited government and individual liberty will use this ruling as a springboard for enacting legislation that reins in agency power.

Wrap Up

This decision sends a clear message: in a constitutional republic, no one is above the law, not even the bureaucrats who wield regulatory power.

For those who value liberty, limited government, and the rule of law, the end of the Chevron deference is a cause for celebration. It marks the beginning of a new era in American governance, one that promises to be more balanced, accountable, and respectful of the constitutional principles that have guided America since its founding.

Oh, happy days! Have a wonderful July 4th tomorrow!

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