WASHINGTON, D.C. – Amicus briefs submitted by corporate trade associations in two U.S. Supreme Court cases overwhelmingly oppose Chevron deference, according to a report Public Citizen and the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (CSS) released today. A court ruling in their favor would hinder agencies’ ability to protect consumers, workers, our environment, and public health and safety.
Public Citizen and CSS analyzed the 81 amicus briefs – filed on behalf of 259 unique entities – that were submitted to the Supreme Court in Loper Bright v. Raimondo and Relentless v. Department of Commerce. The report found that almost all of the briefs filed by corporate trade associations expressed strong opposition to Chevron deference and called for overturning the 40-year-old precedent. In contrast, most of the briefs filed by progressive environmental groups, labor groups, and nonprofits expressed strong support for Chevron deference.
“Corporate-friendly entities and individuals overwhelmingly want to overturn a legal doctrine that respects agency expertise,” said Bitsy Skerry, regulatory policy associate for Public Citizen and co-author of the report. “For industry, protecting profits seems to be more important than protecting the public.”
Chevron deference is based on commonsense and constitutional separation of powers principles: When Congress delegates authority to a federal agency to implement a statute, but the provision at issue in a court case is ambiguous, the court should defer to the agency’s interpretation of that law if it is reasonable. This principle of deference respects Congress’s decision to delegate decision-making to the expert agency and ensures that judges stay out of policymaking.
“So many critical issues with vast implications for the public interest are at stake in these cases: clean air and water, safe consumer products and workplaces, public health and safety, and action on the climate crisis,” said Rachel Weintraub, executive director of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards. “The conflict between the public interest and corporate profits is evident in the amicus briefs submitted by both sides in these cases.”
To secure agencies’ ability to protect the public, Public Citizen and the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards support the Stop Corporate Capture Act (H.R. 1507), a bill pending in Congress that would codify Chevron deference.