The Chevron Doctrine, a fundamental principle in shaping regulations, has played a pivotal role in creating the relationship between the government, its agencies, and the courts in the United States. Established through the Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. case in 1984, this doctrine grants agencies greater autonomy to shape regulations using ambiguous or unclear legislation.
The Chevron Doctrine has guided DC policy for the last four decades. It both allows Congress to pass legislation that punts the thornier topics to agencies and also allows agencies to expand its regulatory reach and adapt regulations based on shifting needs.
Now, however, the Supreme Court is hearing a case that could potentially roll back the Chevron Doctrine. If that happens, this would have significant ramifications for existing regulations, legislation, and the relationship between government agencies and the courts.
These impacts could show themselves in multiple ways:
Increased Judicial Scrutiny: Without Chevron deference, courts would have more latitude to second-guess agency interpretations of statutes. This could lead to more litigation and uncertainty as agencies' decisions become subject to greater judicial scrutiny.
Erosion of Agency Autonomy: Agencies might find it more challenging to implement policies and regulations as their interpretations could be challenged and overturned more easily by the courts. This could hamper the effectiveness and efficiency of government agencies.
Policy Instability: The absence of Chevron could result in a lack of consistency in regulatory decisions, as different courts may interpret statutes differently. This could make it more difficult for businesses and individuals to navigate regulatory compliance.
Regulatory Uncertainty: There is an extremely high likelihood that, if the Supreme Court rolled back the Chevron Doctrine, organizations would challenge existing regulations and could upend regulations that have guided industries for decades (e.g., Clean Air Act).
We won’t know the Supreme Court’s decision on the case until later this year. However, knowing what is on the line, it is important for your organization to consider what regulations your industry relies on and to determine an action plan should the doctrine be overturned.