It wasn’t a good enough case for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear, but that didn’t stop Justice Neil Gorsuch from using Scenic America v. Department of Transportation to weigh in on one of his favorite topics: The need to rein in the power of federal bureaucrats effectively to write their own laws.
Gorsuch’s views on this topic matters to business, because if the newest Supreme Court justice can win over his conservative colleagues to the cause, federal agencies might lose much of their power to interpret statutes as they see fit. Regulated businesses frequently run up against what is known as the Chevron doctrine when they challenge aggressive federal rules, named after a landmark case in which the Supreme Court decided that courts should give deference to agencies when they interpret ambiguous statutory language.
Gorsuch isn’t a fan of Chevron and said as much in a much-noted 2016 decision in which he called agency deference “an elephant in the room” and went on to say “maybe the time has come to face the behemoth.” He sounded a similar tone today in a statement attached to the denial of certiorari, or review, of Scenic America.
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