Supreme Court decision in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo restores a vital judicial check on executive overreach and will protect individual liberties.  

WASHINGTON, DC, June 28, 2024 — Today, attorneys for a group of New Jersey herring fishermen landed a significant victory at the Supreme Court.  With its ruling in Loper Bright v. Raimondo, the Court has overruled the Chevron doctrine and restored the balance of power between Congress and the Administration. The Loper Bright decision was issued alongside Relentless v Department of Commerce.   

The fishermen in the Loper Bright case face an unlawful requirement imposed on them by an executive branch agency that could force them to surrender 20 percent of their earnings to pay at-sea monitors. Because that fee resulted from unlawful overreach and threatened their ability to make a living, the fishermen decided to challenge the requirement in court four years ago. After a split decision in the D.C. Circuit, the Supreme Court decided to review the Chevron doctrine, which is the legal theory the government cited to justify its controversial monitoring rule. For 40 years, Chevron has required federal courts to abdicate their constitutional role to interpret the law by deferring to agency interpretations of statutes whenever those same agencies deem the law “silent” or “ambiguous.” In practice, such deference permitted agencies to engage in egregious overreach, often at the expense of ordinary citizens. 

Bill Bright, a Cape May-based herring fishermen and eponymous plaintiff in Loper Bright, offered this statement: “We are grateful the Court has overruled Chevron. Today’s restoration of the separation of powers is a victory for small, family-run businesses like ours, whether they’re involved in fishing, farming, or retail. Congress never authorized industry-funded monitoring in the herring fishery. And agency efforts to impose such funding hurts our ability to make an honest living. Nothing is more important than protecting the livelihoods of our families and crews.” 

Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, who argued on behalf of the fishermen before the  Supreme Court, added the following: “The Court’s decision puts to rest an interpretive methodology that has seriously distorted how the political branches operate for far too long. Courts should ask what the law means, not whether it is ambiguous, and in close cases, the tie should go to the citizen, not the government. We are gratified that the Court restored the constitutionally mandated separation of powers.” 

In the Supreme Court’s opinion, Chief Justice Roberts wrote: “The deference that Chevron requires of courts reviewing agency action cannot be squared with the APA.” He went on to say, “Chevron’s presumption is misguided because agencies have no special competence in resolving statutory ambiguities.  Courts do.” 

“The Court’s decision to overrule Chevron is one of the most consequential administrative law victories for small businesses in recent memory,” said James Valvo, Executive Director of Cause of Action Institute. “We’re gratified that the Court recognized Chevron’s perverse consequences and ruled in favor of our clients and all citizens whose livelihoods are threatened by an unaccountable bureaucracy. We look forward to any further steps that will be needed to ensure the unlawful industry-funded monitoring regime imposed on herring fishermen is finally taken off the books.” 

The fishermen’s briefs can be found here and here. You can find the complete list of amicus briefs, excerpts, and additional information about the fishermen’s case here. 

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About Cause of Action Institute: Cause of Action Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, a part of the Stand Together community, working to enhance individual and economic liberty by limiting the power of the administrative state to make decisions that are contrary to freedom and prosperity by advocating for a transparent and accountable government free from abuse.