SCOTUS Poised to Decide Fate of the Chevron Doctrine

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The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in four cases this week. The two most closely watched involve whether the Court should overrule its landmark decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, 467 U.S. 837 (1984).

The Court’s Chevron decision established a bedrock principle of administrative law. Under Chevron, courts must defer to a federal agency’s reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous statute that the agency is charged with administering, even if they are inclined to rule another way.

The cases before the Court, Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce and Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, involve a rule issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service requiring fishing vessels to pay for the costs ofobservers who monitor compliance with fishery management plans. In both cases, the federal appeals court deferred to the agency, holding that the rule is a permissible exercise of the agency’s authority

In granting certiorari, the justices have specifically agreed to decide the following question: “Whether the court should overrule Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, or at least clarify that statutory silence concerning controversial powers expressly but narrowly granted elsewhere in the statute does not constitute an ambiguity requiring deference to the agency.”

Below is a brief summary of the remaining cases before the Court:

Devillier v. Texas: The Fifth Amendment government taking case involves when property owners can sue for compensation. In First English Evangelical Lutheran Church v. County of Los Angeles, 482 U.S. 304 (1987), the Supreme Court recognized that the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause was “self-executing” and that “[s]tatutory recognition was not necessary” for claims for just compensation because they “are grounded in the Constitution itself[.]” Following the decision, several appellate state courts have held that the self-executing nature of the Takings Clause requires them to entertain claims directly under the Clause without the need for statutory authorization. Two federal Circuits, the Fifth and the Ninth, disagree and have held that claims for just compensation are only available if they are legislatively authorized. The justices have agreed to consider the following question: “Whether a person whose property is taken without compensation may seek redress under the self-executing takings clause of the Fifth Amendment even if the legislature has not affirmatively provided them with a cause of action.”

Macquarie Infrastructure Corp. v. Moab Partners, L.P.: The case is poised to clarify whether a failure to disclose under Item 303 of Regulation S-K constitutes securities fraud. Section l0(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 prohibits deception in connection with the purchase or sale of securities. To that end, SEC Rule l0b-5 declares it unlawful to make an untrue statement or omit a material fact “necessary” to make an affirmative statement “not misleading.” A violation of this requirement can give rise to a judicially implied private right of action that the Supreme Court has construed narrowly. Item 303 of SEC Regulation S-K calls for additional disclosures under a different standard. Item 303 is an administrative rule that requires a company to disclose known trends or uncertainties that are likely to have a material impact on its financial position, regardless of whether the company had made any statements that would otherwise be misleading. The Court will decide the following question: “Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit erred in holding that a failure to make a disclosure required under Item 303 of SEC Regulation S-K can support a private claim under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, even in the absence of an otherwise misleading statement.”

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