Chris Marraro Article Examines Impact of Ending Chevron Defense

Articles / June 30, 2017

Partner Christopher Marraro co-authored an article published June 30, 2017, by the Washington Legal Foundation. The article, “What Happened in Vagueness Stayed in Deference: A Note on Leaving Chevron,” examines legislation considered by the U.S. House of Representatives that is aimed a relieving the federal courts from employing the Chevron doctrine in reviewing the final decisions of federal regulatory agencies. The Chevron doctrine holds that courts should defer to federal agency interpretations of ambiguous or undefined statutory provisions if a) Congress has not already addressed the provision at issue and b) the agency’s interpretation is reasonable under the statute. It takes its name from the relevant 1984 case, Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.

To counter a perceived diminution of the court’s power post-Chevron, Title II of the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) would amend the Administrative Procedure Act to require courts to conduct de novo review of agency actions.

Marraro and co-author Gary C. Marfin analyze the recent legislative action and conclude:

[T]he elimination of Chevron through Title II of the RAA, if constitutionally permissible, may help curb administrative-state sprawl. However, eliminating Chevron might promote judicial activism and its attendant risk that courts will take it upon themselves to resolve legislative ambiguities. That risk, in the absence of Chevron, can only be mitigated by eliminating statutory ambiguities. Congress’s ability and willingness to legislate with minimal vagueness thus plays a pivotal role in placing boundaries around the administrative state, with or without Chevron as precedent.

Read the article.