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Overturning Chevron Deference Would Harm the Public

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court today heard oral arguments in two cases that could significantly hinder agencies’ ability to protect consumers, workers, our environment, and public health and safety. In the two cases, Relentless v. Department of Commerce and Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, the plaintiffs are asking the court to overturn or limit a 40-year-old legal doctrine called Chevron deference. 

The doctrine, derived from the 1984 Supreme Court decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, holds that, in cases challenging an agency regulation implementing a statute, federal courts should defer to agencies’ reasonable interpretations if the statutory meaning is ambiguous. Deference can be important to preserving regulations that keep our water safe to drink, the products we purchase safe to use, and our air safe to breathe.

A wide array of industry, corporate interest groups, and trade associations submitted briefs asking the Court to overturn Chevron. Public Citizen is one of the many groups that submitted a brief asking the court not to do so.

“If the Supreme Court strikes down Chevron deference, the Relentless and Loper Bright side of life will be harmful to the public’s health and safety,” said Bitsy Skerry, regulatory policy associate for Public Citizen. “In a post-Chevron world, the decisions of agency experts – scientists, engineers, policy professionals – about how to best keep the public safe would be second-guessed by judges who lack subject-matter expertise and are not accountable to the public.”

“If the Supreme Court overturns Chevron deference, we’d face more polluted air and water, more unsafe consumer products and workplaces, more public health and safety threats, and more inaction on the climate crisis. So many critical issues with vast public interest implications are at stake,” said Rachel Weintraub, executive director of the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, which Public Citizen co-chairs.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide the cases by late June.