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What Comes Next After Chevron’s Departure?

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court has overturned the longstanding Chevron doctrine, signaling a significant shift in the deference given to agency interpretations of ambiguous statutes. The ruling in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo means that courts will no longer be bound by agency interpretations unless required by the specific terms of a statute. This change empowers courts to decide more disputes and increases the risk that Executive Branch interpretations will be rejected.

While this change may discourage reliance on agency interpretations and limit the flexibility of new administrations, the immediate impact may be somewhat mitigated by the decreased reliance on Chevron in recent years. The Supreme Court itself has shown reluctance to defer to agency interpretations, and other legal doctrines have also narrowed the scope of Chevron deference.

It is worth noting that the Supreme Court’s decision does not automatically invalidate prior precedents established under Chevron. The Court stated that prior decisions relying on Chevron remain subject to stare decisis, meaning they are not automatically overturned by the change in deference methodology. However, the Supreme Court and en banc courts of appeals have the authority to review and potentially overturn these prior precedents if persuaded that a different result is warranted.

While the full implications of this landmark decision are yet to be seen, it is clear that the legal landscape surrounding agency deference has fundamentally shifted. Parties involved in disputes with agencies may be more inclined to turn to the courts for resolution, and the Executive Branch may face increased scrutiny of its interpretations. This decision marks a significant development in administrative law, with potential ramifications for future legal disputes and interpretations of statutory law.

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