Supreme Court Appears Ready To Favor Fishermen In Major Challenge To Administrative State


The Supreme Court seemed poised Wednesday to side with small fishing companies challenging decades-old precedent that instructs courts to give deference to agency interpretation of laws when the language is ambiguous, legal experts said.

The court’s conservatives — namely Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — repeatedly took issue with the government’s inability to define just when the “ambiguity” that requires deference to an agency’s reading of a law kicks in. But the court’s liberal justices expressed concern that, without Chevron deference, judges would step into the role of policy making.

“The arguments definitely showed that we have a constitutionalist court here,” JCN President Carrie Severino told the Daily Caller News Foundation after oral arguments. “In my mind, the pretty clear majority sees the fundamental problems with the Chevron doctrine—with the fact that it violates the separation of powers, the Administrative Procedure Act. You could hear a lot of skepticism about the impact that’s had both on the courts and the way that the branches interact together, how it creates horrible incentives for Congress to fail to legislate and for the executive branch to try to take over that role.”