Supreme Court Overturns “Chevron Doctrine”

Regulators Will Face Greater Scrutiny

Anyone who has been in business for any length of time can cite a number of times that federal regulatory agencies have had a free hand in regulating businesses such as trucking. That is why carriers and other industries that want a fair fight to challenge regulations in the future may have been given a gift from the U.S. Supreme Court June 28.

By a vote of 6-3, the court overturned 40 years of regulated agencies having an unfair advantage over those being regulated. Known as the Chevron Doctrine, this policy has required lower courts to defer to regulatory agencies in legal challenges of regulations that regulators interpreted from laws enacted by Congress in which Congressional intent was not clear.

In deciding such cases, the lower courts were to: 1) check to see if Congress had clearly addressed the issue in question (which, often, they had not); and 2) if not, determine if the agency’s interpretation was reasonable.

The Chevron Doctrine gave unchecked power to executive branch agencies by “placing a finger on the scales of justice in favor of the most powerful of litigants, the federal government,” said Justice Neil Gorsuch, who voted with the majority.

In the future, regulatory decisions affecting all modes of transportation, including trucking, will have to meet a higher standard at the proposing agency before these regulations are rolled out and challenged in court. We can think of several recent regulatory decisions that may have had a different outcome had this ruling been in effect, including EPA’s trucking Greenhouse Gas Rule being litigated by a coalition of trucking companies, the Department of Labor’s damaging independent contractor rule, and others.

Will the court’s ruling open the door to additional legal challenges to these and other unfair regulations? We certainly hope so!

Miss the Deadline to Challenge a Regulation?

10 July 2024

This session, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Chevron doctrine, a longstanding policy under which lower courts almost always sided with regulatory agency decisions where the intent of Congress was not clear. Overturning Chevron opened the door, many legal experts believe, to allowing challenges against many existing regulations.