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Robert Namer
Voice Of America
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May 16, 2024

     The Supreme Court added another legal challenge to its docket involving a request to overturn decades-old precedent that gives federal agencies significant power in implementing rules and regulations.  A good start.

     It’s the second challenge to what is known as “Chevron deference” — a term of art lawyers gave to how courts have treated the 1984 ruling, which involved a fight between the energy giant and the Environmental Protection Agency and its environmental allies. The court, in a 6-3 ruling, said the EPA’s interpretation of a law was reasonable and that courts should defer to agency judgment in cases in which the law was ambiguous.

     The case accepted, Relentless Inc. v U.S. Department of Commerce, was brought by Rhode Island fishermen and will be argued alongside another case, Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, also involving fishermen, who say a federal rule requiring the industry to pay for federal observers on their boats will hurt them financially and is unlawful.   They say the National Marine Fisheries Service has run amok with a plan to charge fishing vessels as much as $700 a day to hire a monitor to police their catch. The fishers lost in the federal appeals courts and brought the legal battle to the high court.

     “This regulatory inequity threatens petitioners’ use of the flexible style of fishing they have developed and even the use of their vessels with enormous sunk costs. The final rule could result in some fishing trips losing rather than making money,” the new petition to the high court reads.  It took at least four justices to vote in favor of hearing the dispute. The two challenges will be argued on the same day in January, though a date has not been decided. The cases have the potential of upsetting the 1984 precedent Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council.  

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