Supreme Court’s Overruling of “Chevron Deference” Consistent With ALF’s Separation-of-Powers Advocacy

Today’s landmark Supreme Court opinion overruling “Chevron deference” to federal agencies’ interpretations of ambiguities in the statutes that they administer, like the amicus curiae brief that the Atlantic Legal Foundation filed in the case, emphasizes the need to restore and preserve the Constitution’s separation of powers. For case background, click here.

The majority opinion in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, explains that the federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA)

“codifies for agency cases the unremarkable, yet elemental proposition reflected by judicial practice dating back to Marbury: that courts decide legal questions by applying their own judgment. It specifies that courts, not agencies, will decide ‘all relevant questions of law’ arising on review of agency action, §706 (emphasis added)—even those involving ambiguous laws—and set aside any such action inconsistent with the law as they interpret it. And it prescribes no deferential standard for courts to employ in answering those legal questions. . . . The deference that Chevron requires of courts reviewing agency action cannot be squared with the APA. “

The concurring opinion filed by Justice Thomas is even more explicit as to the separation of powers:

Chevron deference also violates our Constitution’s separation of powers . . . . in two ways. It curbs the judicial power afforded to courts, and simultaneously expands agencies’ executive power beyond constitutional limits. “

Consistent with the Court’s opinion, ALF’s amicus brief argued that Chevron deference categorically violates the separation of powers. The brief explained that “[r]espect for the separation of powers is fundamental to the limited and responsible form of government that the Constitution embodies and ALF long has advocated as an amicus curiae in numerous cases before [the] Court.”

ALF further contended that “[r]egardless of whether Chevron deference offends the separation of powers categorically, it does so in this case if federal courts are required to accept an Executive Branch agency’s statutory interpretation that itself violates the separation of powers.” ALF explained that in Loper Bright, a federal agency interpreted a statute in a way that violated the Constitution’s Appropriations Clause.

ALF is pleased to have had the opportunity to participate as an amicus curiae in this historic case, the most important modern administrative law case ever to be decided by the Supreme Court. The Court’s decision not only restores the separation of powers, but also will help curb the excesses of the burgeoning federal administrative state.

Scroll to Top