U.S. Supreme Court Ends Chevron Deference

In one of the final decisions announced for its most recent term, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a major ruling that sharply reduces the power of federal agencies to interpret the laws they administer and in turn, increased the role of courts to interpret ambiguous laws. By a 6-3 vote in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, the Court overruled the 40-year precedent known as the Chevron deference, a doctrine established by the 1984 decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council.

In general, this deference held that if Congress did not directly address a question at the center of a dispute, a court was required to uphold the agency’s interpretation of the statute as long as it was reasonable. But in Loper, the Court held that Chevron deference was “fundamentally misguided” and that the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) directs courts to decide legal questions by applying their own judgement and that agency interpretations are not entitled to deference.  What this could mean for local governments remains uncertain and will certainly play out in the coming years. For more on this, click here for a blog summary by our partners at the International Municipal Lawyers Association.