Instant Reaction to Chevron Decision


June 28, 2024 12:19PM

Another Supreme Court decision to rein in federal agency overreach

Today the Supreme Court issued an important decision that will help Tennesseans push back against overreach by federal agencies. In Loper Bright v. Raimondo, the Court delivered a resounding win for a group of fishermen in a challenge to a federal rule that forced fishermen to pay hundreds of dollars per day for the salaries of federally mandated inspectors on their ships.

Federal law is silent as to whether the family-owned fishing companies in this case must foot the bill for federal inspectors. Yet the Court of Appeals ruled that a federal agency may require the companies to do so merely because the agency’s interpretation of the law was “reasonable.” A forty-year-old Supreme Court decision named Chevron v. NRDC calls for courts to defer to reasonable agency interpretations—even where that’s not the best reading of the law. This deference to federal agencies has led to an explosion of regulations by unelected bureaucrats. The Federal Register, which publishes all federal rules, now stands at over 26 feet tall. 

Today’s Supreme Court decision overturns Chevron and returns the task of interpreting laws to the courts. That’s a great thing for liberty. It’s hard enough for Tennesseans to keep track of the countless federal regulations with which they must comply. But it’s even harder for Tennesseans to keep track of the rules that govern them when agencies ping pong from one “reasonable” view of what the law requires to another with each new presidential administration. Today’s decision limits agency flip flops and makes the law more consistent for Tennesseans. Loper Bright also curbs an agency’s power to interpret statutes to enhance the agency’s regulatory authority at the expense of individual liberty.

Today’s decision provides precedent that Tennesseans can use to push back against overreaching EPA regulations that undermine property rights, Department of Labor regulations that prevent entrepreneurs from earning a living, and other federal regulations that stand in the way of Tennesseans pursuing the American dream.

Beacon’s clients are doing just that. Earlier this year, Nashville-based freelance journalists Margaret Littman and Jennifer Chesak sued the Department of Labor for its independent contractor rule that coerces businesses to classify their workers as employees. Yet Margaret and Jennifer do not want to be employees. They’ve chosen to work as freelancers because of the flexibility, control, and opportunities that the work provides them. Their federal civil rights case advances separation-of-powers claims and defends their fundamental right to earn a living. California’s independent contractor law destroyed the livelihoods of countless freelancers. A favorable decision in our clients’ case would prevent the federal regulation from destroying economic opportunity for many more—including Tennesseans including those who live in the freelance capital of America. That’s why Beacon represents Margaret and Jennifer free-of-charge in their case.

Today’s decision in Loper Bright is a win for liberty. It won’t automatically stop federal agency overreach. But it helps Tennesseans who want to reclaim their rights in court and push back when agencies overstep their authority.