In a recent development on Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives voted to overturn a longstanding Supreme Court ruling that has shaped the balance of power between the branches of government.

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by Alexander Carter at

The ruling in question, Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. (1984), has come under scrutiny from Republicans who argue that it has given the executive branch excessive control over imposing regulations that impose significant costs on the American public.

The House approved the Separation of Powers Restoration Act (SOPRA) in a largely party-line vote of 220-211. This move reflects the ongoing debate surrounding the Chevron precedent, which directs courts to defer to federal agencies’ interpretations of laws passed by Congress when crafting regulations.

Republicans contend that this deference has allowed the executive branch to wield authority beyond the original intent of Congress, resulting in regulations that often contradict lawmakers’ objectives.

Highlighting the economic impact of these regulations, Republican Representative Scott Fitzgerald of Wisconsin stressed that the cumulative cost on American citizens now amounts to nearly $2 trillion annually, equivalent to about 8% of the nation’s GDP.

Fitzgerald argues that this trend is contrary to the intentions of the Founding Fathers, who envisioned a clear separation of powers among the branches of government, when he stated, “Since 1984, when the Supreme Court ruled that courts must defer to an agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous statute rather than what Congress intended, the executive branch has begun usurping the legislative branch to issue regulations with the force of law… It is certainly not what our founders intended.”

Echoing this sentiment, Representative Thomas McClintock of California emphasized that the Constitution grants Congress the power to legislate while assigning the executive branch the task of implementing those laws. McClintock pointed out that the Chevron ruling disrupts this balance, resulting in an executive branch that both enforces and shapes regulations.

Democrats, however, voiced concerns about the potential consequences of overturning Chevron. They argued that such a move would burden the courts with an overwhelming workload, as they would be required to extensively interpret federal law in the absence of deference to agency expertise.

Representative Jerry Nadler of New York, the leading Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, warned that the proposed legislation would upend the administrative process, necessitating federal courts to review all agency rulemakings and statutory interpretations from scratch.

According to reports from Fox News, Nadler said that the bill would, “completely upend the administrative process by eliminating judicial deference to agencies and require federal courts to review all agency rule-makings and interpretations of statute on a de novo basis.”

While the House’s decision marks an important step for Republicans, the bill’s prospects in the Democrat-controlled Senate remain uncertain. Additionally, President Biden has signaled his intent to veto the legislation.


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