On May 1, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to reconsider its ruling in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council. In Chevron, the Court ruled that courts should defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous statute so long as that interpretation is reasonable.

The case that may change (or at least clarify) the deference requirement is Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo.  There, a group of commercial fishing companies is challenging a rule issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service that requires the fishing industry pay the cost of on-board observers to monitor compliance with fishery management plans. This cost can be $700 per day, which is more than a captain would make, and could potentially drive the boats out of the fishery.  In August 2022, a divided U.S. Court of Appeals panel rejected the companies’ challenge. The majority opinion, authored by Judge Judith Rogers, explained that while federal law makes clear the government may require fishing boats to carry monitors, it does not address who must pay for the monitors. Relying on Chevron, it found that the statute was silent as to who should pay, and that the agency’s interpretation to be reasonable, thus obligating court deference.

The fishing companies petitioned the Court to overrule Chevron, and the Court agreed to take up the question. The case will likely be argued in the fall, with a decision rendered sometime in 2024. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has recused herself from the case, presumably due to her participation in the case’s oral argument while she was a judge on the D.C. Circuit. The SCOTUSblog article, along with the Loper and Chevron cases, may be found HERE.