Supreme Court interpretations of the Chevron deference doctrine

This episode of Between the Lines considers one of the most important cases in administrative law, namely, the Chevron deference doctrine.

Chevron, decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1985, and the subsequent cases that made it into a “doctrine,” deal with how courts should evaluate an administrative agency’s interpretation of its authorizing statute that it claims empowers it to issue the rules in question. Chevron requires courts to apply a two-step analysis that first considers whether the statute in question is clear. If so, the court must then apply that standard. If the statute is unclear, however, the second step requires the court to defer to the agency’s interpretation of the statute as long as that interpretation is reasonable.

The doctrine has been applied by the Supreme Court approximately 100 times in 35 years and not without controversy among legal scholars and practitioners. There are two cases pending before the court this term that offer it the opportunity to reverse or reform the Chevron doctrine. 

This episode discusses these issues with Columbia Law Professor Tom Merrill, author of a recent book on Chevron, Fernando Laguarda, general counsel of AmeriCorps who will provide a perspective from a federal agency, and University of Minnesota Law Professor Kristin Hickman who will bring us up to speed on the two pending cases.