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SCOTUS Reverses Previous Chevron Defense


The Supreme Court has handed down a decision in Loper Bright Enterprises v Raimondo.  The decision effectively reverses a landmark case, Chevron USA Inc. v Natural Resources Defense Council Inc.  The effect of the ruling is to trim the discretion exercised by federal agencies in decisions where there is ambiguity in interpretation of law.


The 1984 SCOTUS ruling established the Chevron Defense that was used to support the actions of any federal agency based on a reasonable or rational evaluation of circumstances.  The Loper Bright Enterprises decision places the responsibility for interpretation of law within the judicial system.  Writing for the six to three majority, Chief Justice John Roberts noted “Chevron defied the command of the Administrative Procedure Act.”  Justice Roberts also stated that, “Agencies have no special competence in resolving statutory ambiguities that is the province of courts.”


The Loper decision does not affect previous cases in which the Chevron Defense was applied and accordingly decisions in these cases are valid. 


It is expected that rejection of the Chevron Defense will have far reaching implications in interpreting both the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act that are both of importance to agriculture and specifically livestock production.