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SCOTUS Takes Aim at Administrative State: Historic Opportunity to Limit Federal Powers

A case challenging the powers of federal agencies, which is currently pending before the Supreme Court, may lead to a significant overhaul of the administrative state. The case originated from a lawsuit filed by family-owned fishing companies against the National Marine Fisheries Service over the decision to require them to pay the salaries of onboard federal observers. The NMFS claimed that the law governing fishery management mandated such payments, which amounted to 20% of the companies’ revenue.

The companies are now seeking to challenge the 1984 Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council decision, which established that courts should defer to agency interpretations of statutes when Congress’ intent is uncertain. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the NMFS’s decision, relying on the Chevron ruling. The government has also defended Chevron in its brief, arguing that it promotes political accountability, national uniformity, predictability, and respects agencies’ expertise in administering complex statutory schemes. This case offers a historic opportunity to limit the powers of federal agencies.

Despite this, several groups, including the Cato Institute and Liberty Justice Center, have come out in support of the companies’ challenge. They argue that Chevron deference is unconstitutional and has caused significant harm to businesses and individuals over the last four decades.

The upcoming case, Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, is only one of many challenges to the administrative state that the Supreme Court will be hearing, including a constitutional challenge to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s funding mechanism. This is a critical moment for conservatives who have long been aware of the threat posed by federal agencies to individual rights and economic freedom. If the Supreme Court curtails agency powers, it will be a significant victory for those who support limited government and free-market principles.

Written by Staff Reports

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