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Supreme Court Poised to Shatter the Administrative State in Historic Rulings

Former Trump White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon once vowed to "deconstruct the administrative state", and he may get his way thanks to the Supreme Court's far right majority.

The SCOTUS cases Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce could have a huge impact on the power of federal agencies to make and enforce regulations. 






The cases challenge a legal doctrine established in the 1984 Supreme Court’s decision in Chevron v. National Resources Defense Council, which requires courts to defer to federal agencies’ interpretations of ambiguous laws, unless they are unreasonable.

The so-called “Chevron deference” doctrine has enabled agencies to address complex administrative issues without having to wait for Congress to act.

However, some conservative judges and critics of the Chevron deference claim that it gives too much power to unelected bureaucrats and violates the separation of powers. Note that "conservatives" have no problem with unelected, unaccountable, appointed-for-life Supreme Court judges making momentous decisions - as long as they align with their ideology.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett may play a decisive role in the outcome of the case, as they have expressed some support for Chevron deference in the past, but also some concerns about its limits and scope.

As Ian Millhiser at Vox pointed out:

“[T]he Court appears to be barreling toward the conclusion that judges, and not federal agencies staffed by experts on topics like wastewater management or the economics of telecommunications, should have the final word on these and countless other difficult policy questions.”

The case could either reaffirm, weaken, or overrule the Chevron deference doctrine, gutting the ability of Federal agencies to function as they have since the New Deal era, and shifting power from the executive branch of government to the judiciary.
 

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